When you are harmed by the careless or negligent actions of another, you may be entitled to money damages. There are time limits in every state, however, and if you wait too late, you might miss your chance to be compensated. Many people are somewhat confused about the concept of the time limit (called the statute of limitations), so take a look at some interesting facts that might have you second-guessing when you take action on your personal injury case.
- Note the time limits that apply to the state where it occurred. If you live in Washington but were hurt or harmed in California, you would need to abide by the statute in California. The time limits for filing a claim for damages vary greatly from as little as one year to many years. For example, for personal injury cases, the time limit to file in California is only two years, whereas it's three years in Washington.
- Note the form of harm done. Some states separate the harm done by type. For example, an automobile accident might have a different time limit than defamation of character.
- The sooner you file, the better. The statute of limitations exists in all states for several good reasons. As far as you are concerned, filing as soon as possible after the occurrence can mean it's easier to collect evidence. Take a car accident, for instance. Gathering evidence at the scene and from around the scene as quickly as possible might mean a lot to your case. One recent addition to many accident cases is video. It was rare to find video of an accident in the past, but now it can be plentiful. Unfortunately, bystanders' video and video from nearby businesses or residences may be erased or recorded over if you don't act fast to locate it and secure it for use as valuable evidence. Another valuable form of evidence that might be lost if not secured is eye-witness statements. Memories can fade, and witnesses can be more difficult to locate as time goes on. To learn more, contact an auto accident lawyer.
- You are not expected to take action until you know about the harm done. When you are hurt in a car accident, you are likely to realize the severity of your injuries within a few weeks. In some cases, however, you may not know about the harm done until later. Exposure to a toxic substance is a common form of harm that some may not realize until the statute of limitations has run out. The discovery of harm provision protects those who were unable to take action because they were unaware of the magnitude of the harm done.
Your best course of action is to speak to a personal injury attorney about your case as soon as possible.