How long can I wait to file a personal injury claim
How long can I wait to file a personal injury claim?
If you have been injured in an accident and plan to file a lawsuit against whoever is responsible for your injuries, you have two years to do so. This time starts running from the moment you are injured. The reason for this timeframe is to protect the defendant from the never-ending possibility of litigation. It is also to make sure that lawsuits are brought when important evidence is still available.
If you are planning on bringing a lawsuit, but let the two years pass by, your case will be dismissed even if the evidence points to the defendant being guilty of the charges.
What if you are not aware of any injuries until later?
In some accidents, injuries are not immediately noticed. The injured person may not know about them until they start experiencing pain or until results come back indicating some internal damage. The “discovery rule” allows the clock to start ticking when the injuries are discovered or when they should have been discovered.
The clock can also be delayed when there are minors involved since, in those cases, the deadline to file can be extended until they turn 18. It can also be delayed when the person who caused the injuries leaves the state.
What do the 2 years mean?
The fact that the statute of limitations talks about two years to file a personal injury claim does not mean that the case needs to be resolved within that time. It just refers to the time you have to file.
If you think you must have all the medical bills and any other evidence gathered before approaching a personal injury attorney, you may be risking not having enough time to file the lawsuit. It is better to file the claim and then change or amend it if needed than to miss the window of time available to file. In cases where the injuries are severe, it is understood that you may still be undergoing treatment when you file and that more bills and medical expenses will be added on as they become available.
What can your personal injury attorney accomplish during these two years?
It is recommended that you reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as you are injured because your lawyer will need this time to carry out a full investigation into your accident. This may include interviewing any witnesses and gathering and preserving all evidence. Also, your attorney will contact your medical providers to talk about billing and ensure that all your injuries and losses are well documented.
During this time, your lawyer will be in communication with the insurance and the party at fault to negotiate the most favorable terms on your behalf. Waiting before hiring legal representation may result in evidence being lost or destroyed, and witnesses being hard to reach, or, once they are reached, their testimonies may not be accurate, or your lawyer may discover that they have passed away. Also, this time allows your lawyer to obtain a copy of the police report and, with all the information, build a strong case in your favor.
Lawyers Wattel &York recommend not jeopardizing the possibility of a fair financial recovery and acting quickly after your accident. This could make all the difference in the way your case develops.