If you, or someone that you love has been injured, or killed in a negligent situation you deserve to be compensated for that personal injury, or wrongful death. Unfortunately, if you do not file your lawsuit within a particular period of time, the statue of limitations expires and you may lose the right to pursue financial compensation. It is important that you know what these time frames are in your state, but there are certain situations that may extend these deadlines by years. If you fall into one of these categories, you will not have to worry about the clock ticking.
How Long Do You Have To File A Lawsuit In Court?
The statue of limitations in personal injury cases can really vary from state to state. The amount of time that you have is usually measured from the date the injury, or accident took place.
For example: If you are injured in Maine, you have six years to file your lawsuit for a personal injury, but if you were injured in Kentucky or Louisiana, you only have one year to file. On the other hand, if you are filing for property damage you have six years in Maine. Although the one year in Louisiana will remain the same, the statute in Kentucky changes to five years for real property, and two years for personal property.
If you are filing a case against a state or governmental agency, you may be required to file an ante litem notice before you are able to file a claim. These notices often have a much shorter period of time in which they must be filed.
What Are The Circumstances That Can Buy You More Time?
Just like the differences in the time frames in which you have to file your suit, extenuating circumstances can also vary by state. Here are a few of the most common.
- When A Child Is Injured - If your child has been injured, the time period does not start winding down until the day that they reach age 18. This means that if your state has a two year statute of limitations, you will have until the day they turn 20. If there is a six year statute of limitations, you will have until they turn 24. However, you must be aware that the reimbursement of certain expenses, such as medical expenses, may actually belong to the parents. Therefore the suit for these must be filed within the initial statute of limitations.
- Mental Incompetence - The court recognizes that there are cases in which the plaintiff is not mentally competent enough to file a case with the court. In these cases, the statute of limitations may be extended until the person becomes competent, or a guardian is appointed.
- Unrepresented estate - If your loved one is killed, and there is not an administrator for the estate, the statute of limitations will not begin until an appropriate administrator is appointed. In some states such as Georgia, this time period can still not exceed five years.
- Criminal Prosecution - If the accident, or injury have resulted in criminal charges being filed against the defendant, the statute of limitations may not begin until the criminal charges are disposed of. If cases such as this, it would be important for you to closely follow the criminal case, as these cases can often be disposed of with no notice.
No matter how much time you have to file your case, it is important that you consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. They will not only give you advice about the filing deadlines which apply to your case, but also on other critical components that you need to file a successful suit.