Most people know that a statute of limitations means that there is a time limit for filing a criminal or civil case, after which a legal remedy may no longer be pursued, unless an exception is applicable. When it comes to personal injury, the statute of limitations may vary from state to state. Personal injury lawyers have the experience it takes to guide a victim through the applicable statute for specific types of personal injury claims in the state.
Not all types of personal injury claims have the same statute of limitations, and there are cases when the statute may be extended, stayed, or shortened depending on the circumstances. Nevertheless, there are general cases where the standard statute of limitations will apply. The following are the standard statute of limitations that apply for certain types of claims:
- Medical malpractice – two years after the incident, or alternatively, two years after reasonable discovery
- Personal injury – two years
- Product liability – two years after the incident, or alternatively, two years after reasonable discovery
The term “reasonable discovery” refers to injuries sustained that may not be immediately apparent but for which wrongful conduct, negligence or carelessness of a third party was the direct cause. For example, if a misdiagnosis led to extended and inappropriate treatment for a non-existent disease while allowing the real disease to progress untreated, resulting in death three years later, the two year statute of limitations would commence as soon as the misdiagnosis was discovered.
It is also possible to “pause” the running of the statute of limitations in certain cases of personal injury. This is referred to as “tolling.” This may be due to the victim’s age or mental competence at the time the injury occurred.