The Exceptions to Statutes of Limitations


Many people have heard of the statute of limitations rule. Each state and the federal judicial system places limits on how much time can elapse between an incident and taking legal action. You may have heard that only murder has no statute of limitations but it is not only criminal matters that must abide by the rule. Civil law, and personal injury law in particular, also abide by a statute of limitations. For those harmed by the actions of others, it pays for victims to understand the law in their state and about the exceptions as well. Read on to find out more.

1. Each state has its own rules about when lawsuits must be filed. For reference, you should take action and file a lawsuit in the same state where the alleged harm occurred. For example, if you were on vacation in Montana and were involved in a wreck, you must seek relief in Montana using a personal injury lawyer licensed to practice in that state.

In addition to each state being different, some states separate various civil wrongs into different limitations. For instance, you might need to take action in two years for a car accident in one state but you might have three years to file a medical malpractice case. Be sure you don't exceed the statue that applies to your particular type of harm.

2. If you exceed the statute of limitations, you are very likely to have your case dismissed or "thrown out" if you waited too long to file. When that occurs, you may never get the financial compensation you are owed. As with all rules, however, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations.

The most common way to gain access to compensation once the deadline has passed is by using what is known as the discovery of harm doctrine. With this, the victim alleges that they had no idea that harm has been done until the statute of limitations had run out. That may be the case when dealing with some types of harm that occurs gradually and so slowly that the victim is unaware they are being affected. Asbestos exposure and black lung disease are two common forms of harm that can build up over the years and affect a victim. If you've recently discovered an injury that you had no previous knowledge of, talk to a lawyer. Once you discover the harm, the statute of limitations clock begins to tick.

Another exception applies to those under the age of 18. If an injury or harm occurred to a person who has not met the age of majority in their state, the statute of limitations is said to "toll" or be suspended until they reach 18. While your parents can always file a suit before that time on your behalf, it's legal to wait.

Two other exceptions include being mentally or physically incapacitated and moving from one state to another. The main thing to keep in mind is that it may not be too late to take action. Speak to a personal injury attorney to find out more.


20 July 2020

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