After you have been injured in a car accident or slip-and-fall, and you begin to look for an attorney if the other side’s insurance company is not being reasonable, you will be asked a simple question by every attorney you meet with – “When did the accident happen?” This is not just to ensure they have the date of the accident. It is also to make sure that you have not waited too long to file your claim – that the attorney can file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations of an injury.
Every state has a statute of limitations, and where an injury occurs because of the tort of a federal worker, the federal government has a statute of limitations to file a claim as well. In Indiana, for example, the statute of limitations to file a claim in a personal injury/tort case is two years. That means that two years from the injury’s occurrence, although most courts consider the date of the injury’s occurrence to be the date of the accident as well. For the purposes of keeping this simple, we’ll say that the two years is from the date of the accident itself.
Statutes of limitations have their proponents and their detractors. But the most important reason people say that statutes of limitations are important is because after a certain amount of time has passed, certain evidence may be gone, and the memories of any witnesses may be foggy. The statute of limitations allows for cases to be decided quickly as well. If someone filed a case 5 years later, it could possibly take the court a longer time to locate evidence and witnesses, on top of the fact that the evidence could be missing, and the witnesses could misremember certain facts.
Statutes of limitations are used in civil and criminal cases, but they are often longer in criminal cases to give the police the ability to locate the person who may have committed the crime. In civil cases, because the plaintiff often knows the party who injured them, filing suit is easier, thus the two-year time frame.
In cases such as medical malpractice cases, there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations. For example, in cases where the injury due to medical malpractice takes a long time to discover, as in cases where there might be a failed cancer diagnosis, Indiana courts have held that the two-year statute of limitations applies only when the person has discovered the injury, and not when the actual malpractice occurs. This is important because it allows leeway for more severe cases. If medical malpractice cases were limited strictly by when the malpractice occurred, many people would not be able to file their lawsuits, and many negligent acts would be left unpunished.
Overall, statutes of limitations are important to ensure that there is relatively quick justice for those who seek it because of the acts of another. If they are injured, and an insurance company is being difficult, it is easy for a plaintiff to locate an attorney to file suit within two years. It ensures that all evidence is persevered properly, and any witnesses can still communicate what they saw.
Have You Been Injured in an Accident?
Contact the experienced injury attorneys at Hurst Limontes, LLC! We work hard for our clients to ensure they receive just compensation for their injuries, and our attorneys have decades of combined experience working on premises liability cases! Call or email us today for a free consultation!