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In 2017, there were approximately 292,000 civil filings in US district courts.

That makes the US one of the most litigious countries in the world. And of all the lawsuits filed each year, personal injury is among the most common.  

If you’re planning on filing a personal injury lawsuit, you need to act quickly. That’s because meeting the personal injury statute of limitations is essential when you’re seeking compensation for an injury.

Not sure what the personal injury statute of limitations is or looking for a statute of limitations extension? Keep reading to find out more.

What is the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations? 

Every state has laws that pertain to the time limits placed on filing a personal injury lawsuit in court. The deadlines vary by state but, in every state, the specific timelines are strict.

If you don’t file your lawsuit within the given time period, it’s unlikely that you’ll be bringing your case to court. The statute of limitations can range anywhere from 1 to 6 years. In most cases, the statute begins the day of your accident.

Can You Extend the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?

Generally speaking, the personal injury statute of limitations begins on the day you were injured. There are a few ways that you qualify for an extension.

The first extension occurs if the potential defendant left the state after the injury was sustained. In most (but not all) states, if a defendant leaves the state, the statute of limitations is on hold.

The statute remains on hold for as long as that person is out of the state. Say the statute of limitations is 2 years and the defendant left the state for 1 year. You receive a 1-year extension on the statute. But keep in mind that this may be very difficult to prove in court.

Another extension on the personal injury statute of limitations occurs when the plaintiff is under the age of 18, mentally ill, or disabled. Most states provide extensions for these cases.

Although the majority of states allow for exceptions in these types of situations, they’re still limited. If you’ve been injured and you’re seeking compensation, don’t wait to get started. Counting on an extension is a risk you don’t want to take.

Are There Exemptions on the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?

The discovery rule is an exception to the personal injury statute of limitations. If the injured person didn’t know about the injury or the fact that the defendant’s actions could have caused the injury, they may qualify to file lawsuit well past the statute of limitations. Upheld in most states, these situations are actually quite common in personal injury law.

For example, say a construction employee was exposed to asbestos during the course of their employment (or even just a particular period of their employment). Then, 20 years later, that individual develops cancer that’s linked to asbestos exposure. This is considered a work injury.

Of course, 20 years is well past any state’s personal statute staute of limitations. But, according to the discovery rule, the statute of limitation for this case wouldn’t begin until the day the individual found out that their illness is related to asbestos. This is because that’s the day that you became aware of your injury and its cause. 

What to Do After a Personal Injury

If you’ve been involved in an accident or sustained an injury, the first thing you should do is ensure you’re okay. You should take whatever steps you need to look after your health and get proper treatment.

After taking care of yourself, there are some other important steps to take. Following each of these steps – in no particular order – gives you a better chance if you decide to file a lawsuit.

  • Collect evidence. This evidence should help you prove who caused the accident and how much damage was done. Take photographs when and where possible.
  • Write down all the details of the accidents as soon as possible. Write down road and weather conditions, dates and times, and any other details related to the accident. 
  • Keep all your documents. This includes medical bills, doctors notes, lost wages, etc.
  • Collect the name and contact information of witnesses. If you can, try to get yourself a copy of the police report. And if you walk to anybody else involved in the accident, write down any details of those conversations.
  • Inform any potential defendant that you may file a lawsuit for your injuries and damage.

In terms of the last step, ensure you’re aware of the statute of limitations in your state and don’t delay. Every state has a time limit in which you can notify that person and file a claim. Not only does this ensure you meet the personal injury statute of limitations, it gives you a better chance of resolving the claim quickly.

And keep in mind that you can notify the potential defendants even if you don’t plan on filing a lawsuit or you’re unsure. You’re not required to file a lawsuit after providing notification. 

Have You Been Injured?

If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation for your injury and/or property damage. Getting those damages is a matter of filing a lawsuit – and this has to be done in a timely manner.

For that reason, most states have a personal injury statute of limitations. These statutes set deadlines on how long you have to file a suit following an injury.

Personal injury statute of limitations typically begins on the day the injury happened. But there are exceptions under the discovery rule as well as extensions in certain situations.

If you’re seeking compensation for your injuries, our experienced team can increase your chances of winning the case. Contact us to find out how we can help.

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