Statute of Limitations Lawyer
What is a statute of limitations?
Statutes of limitations are laws that limit the amount of time a plaintiff in a civil case has to file a lawsuit. The deadlines vary depending on a number of factors including the:
(1) type of claim,
(2) the state in which the claim is filed and,
(3) whether the claim is filed in federal or state court.
In the event that a lawsuit is not filed before the statutory deadline, you may lose the legal right to sue. It is important to seek the early advice of a qualified personal injury attorney in order to protect your legal rights.
Statute of limitations general deadlines
While the time limit varies depending on the type of claim and where it is filed, every person has at least one year from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. The following is a list of general statute of limitations deadlines for some civil claims:
- Negligence: personal injury claims – one to two years
- Intentional wrongdoing: personal injury claims – one to six years
- Medical malpractice – one to four years from occurrence of injury or six months to three years from discovery of injury (exceptions apply)
- Breach of oral contract – two to six years
- Breach of written contract – three to six years
- Claims against government entities – typically less than one year
Once a claim is filed, the statute of limitations laws do not interfere with how long it takes for the case to be resolved. However, most states have “diligent prosecution” laws, which require that cases be resolved within a set time period, otherwise they may face dismissal.
Statute of limitations tolling
Under most circumstances, the statute of limitations clock starts ticking on the date the harm occurred, the date the plaintiff should have known about the harm, or the date the plaintiff discovered the harm. However, exceptions apply to this rule to protect plaintiffs who were not aware of the harm for months or even years after the incident. In certain limited situations, the statute of limitations laws may be tolled, or extended . These situations may include:
- There was a delay in discovering the harm or injury
- There was a delay in discovering the harm or injury as a result of a trusting plaintiff
- If the victim is a minor, their right to file a personal injury lawsuit is tolled until they reach the age of majority.
Suing government entities
Statute of limitations laws are different when bringing claims against the government. Government agencies cannot be sued unless you file an administrative claim within the first 60 days after the injury. Typically, the government will deny your claim, and will inform you of the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit.
Violation of statute of limitations
If a lawsuit is in violation of statute of limitations laws, a judge will not automatically dismiss the case. Defendants are required to raise a statute of limitations violation, which confirms the plaintiff's claim is untimely, or file a “motion to dismiss” asking the judge to throw out the complaint on the basis that the claim has expired.
Contact a qualified attorney
If you or someone you know has been seriously injured due to the negligence of another party, it is important to immediately contact a qualified personal injury attorney to ensure your legal rights are fully protected. An experienced attorney will inform you of the statute of limitations law in your state and maximize your legal options. Please contact us today to speak to a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney free of charge.
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