My firm issues a newsletter several times each year. I try to provide helpful information to help you and your family. There’s an archive of these newsletters on my website.
One of the topics I frequently deal with involves the time limit for filing a lawsuit. The law actually limits the amount of time that may pass after the event (e.g. injury). Unfortunately, like many legal issues, determining that deadline isn’t as easy as you’d think. Depending on the type of case and the specific details surrounding that event, the amount of time varies.
An important thing to remember is that regardless of the injury you or a family member sustained, the clock started the moment it happened. We refer to this as the Statute of Limitations.
As I stated in the newsletter: “A statute of limitations is nothing more than a legal rule that limits how long you may wait before bringing a claim against another person. If you do not make your claim before the statute of limitations passes, the law may prevent you from ever doing so. Statutes of limitations are followed strictly by our courts. If you are even a single day late, your claim may be dismissed-“close enough” does not help with the statute of limitations.”
It’s not uncommon for an attorney to delay actually filing the lawsuit until medical treatment has ceased. This provides a better idea as to the full amount of medical bills, what special equipment may be required to help the injured party, and more importantly, what other type of assistance that person is going to require going forward.
Let me be extremely clear. If you or a family member has been injured at work, in a car accident, during a medical procedure, or otherwise, it’s important that you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. He/She will help to determine your statute of limitations.
Even if the actual lawsuit isn’t going to be filed immediately, there is usually an immense amount of work that needs to be done. Witnesses need to be interviewed, facts need to be gathered while they’re still fresh, and evidence needs to be preserved before it gets lost “accidentally on purpose.”
Typically speaking, most lawyers don’t run to the courthouse to file lawsuits before the case has been fully investigated. If that can’t be done thoroughly because the clock is about to run out on your case, many lawyers will decide not to take the case. They can potentially be sued for legal malpractice if they fail to file the suit in time. Unfortunately, even a serious case may not get filed simply because there isn’t sufficient time to do it correctly. Those situations are tragic.
Remember, if you’ve been injured, seek medical help, then get legal assistance. There’s a lot riding on your decision to take action. The statue of limitations clock is already ticking. Don’t become a victim, again.