When you’re the victim of an accident, the law allows you to file a personal injury claim for monetary compensation. This is called seeking damages, and there are specific restrictions as to how and when you can do it. Specifically, the law applies a time limit, known as a statute of limitations, to every claim for damages, so it’s important to understand how this will affect your ability to obtain compensation.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is established to ensure dishonest individuals won’t try to file claims several years after the fact—when evidence is no longer available. For that reason, every state places a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. While the term may vary from state to state, most states set a three-year time limit. This means that the accident victim has three years from the date of the incident to file an injury claim.
If the accident victim is a minor child, the rules are a little different. An injured minor has three years from their 18th birthday to file a claim. This means they have until their 21st birthday to begin legal action against a defendant in civil court.
How Do You Extend the Statute of Limitations?
There are a couple of ways to extend the time you have to file a personal injury claim, though you will have to ask your attorney if these exceptions would apply in your case. For instance, some states have a “Discovery Rule.” In particular, the accident victim may be able to extend the statute of limitations if they didn’t know they had been injured in the accident or the other party had been at fault. If these factors weren’t discovered until the three-year limitation had expired, a civil court judge may rule to extend the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations may also be paused if the defendant leaves the state. For instance, if the defendant is aware that their actions caused you to experience a disability, they might leave the state for the remainder of the three-year time limit. However, the clock will be stopped once they leave the state and won’t resume until they return.
The Gil Law Firm is a Dothan, AL, personal injury law firm that offers ethical and dedicated legal services to accident victims. If you have been in an accident, you can rely on the firm’s staff to help you file your claim and obtain the damages you need to financially recover from the incident. To learn more about their areas of practice and their attorneys, visit their website. To arrange an initial consultation, call their office at (334) 673-0100.