What is the Statute of Limitations on Filing my Personal Injury Lawsuit?

What is the Statute of Limitations on Filing my Personal Injury Lawsuit?Every state has its own deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits; this deadline is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” This means that a lawsuit must be filed within a certain time limit from the accident or injury, or else the injured party’s legal claim will be barred and they will forever lose the right to sue over that claim. In other words, the clock starts running on the statute of limitations on the day that you were injured. Depending on the state, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases ranges from one to six years. It’s important that, in the event you have an accident or slip and fall case, you are aware of the applicable statute of limitations to ensure that you don’t file your claim too late.

In some states, the type of personal injury claim can affect the time limit the injured party has to file a claim. For example, some kinds of defamation cases and claims involving persons under 18 may be granted longer time limits, while medical malpractice claims might get a reduced time limit. Most states have an exception to the standard statute of limitations time limits known as the “discovery rule” (or “discovery of harm” rule). The discovery rule exception extends the filing deadline in cases where the injured party was unaware of either: the injury, or the fact that the defendant’s actions may have caused the injury.

An example of the discovery rule in action is a medical malpractice claim where a surgeon left a temporary bandage in a patient’s abdomen, but the mistake was not discovered until years later. In this case, the statute of limitations would probably not start to run until the mistake was discovered. However, for this exception to apply, the delay in discovery must be reasonable. For example, if the patient experienced abdominal pain for years after the mistake but refused to seek treatment, the discovery rule exception might not apply.

Evaluating How Much a Personal Injury Case is Worth

Evaluating How Much a Personal Injury Case is WorthThere is no such thing as an “average” settlement. There are simply too many different types of personal injury cases, and in any event a settlement will always depend on the unique facts of that particular case. However, there are some factors common to most personal injury cases. Most personal injury cases end in a settlement rather than a jury verdict. The actual settlement in a personal injury case takes place when the defendant (the person being sued) agrees to pay the plaintiff (the person who is suing) an amount of money to make the plaintiff drop the case.

 

To determine the amount of a settlement, both sides begin by deciding on their own what they think the case is worth. In other words, what a potential jury might award the plaintiff if the case went to trial. This is generally done by researching similar cases to see what juries have awarded in the past, and then factoring in the circumstances of the case at hand. In the event that an insurance company is handling the defendant’s side, there might be predetermined settlement amounts depending on the type of lawsuit.

 

Once both sides have come up with an estimate for an acceptable settlement amount, they will begin making offers and counter-offers. As the facts become clearer and the likelihood of the plaintiff prevailing at trial is fleshed out, the prospective amount may go higher or lower. Once the sides agree on an acceptable settlement amount, they will sign a settlement agreement and the plaintiff then proceeds to drop the case. The following are some key factors that can help determine the potential value of a settlement:

  • The defendant’s assets- If a defendant doesn’t have the means to pay a high settlement, then a high settlement won’t be a possibility regardless of the facts of the case.
  • Damages- For the plaintiff, this entails what their injuries cost monetarily, physically, and mentally. Damages can also include medical expenses, lost work, and any other concrete financial losses suffered by the plaintiff.
  • Liability- This is a strong determinant for how strong the plaintiff’s case actually is, i.e. is the defendant liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Even if high damages can be shown, liability will still be the crucial issue.