When you are injured because of a parties' negligence or carelessness, you have every right to file suit and seek compensation. Unfortunately, it doesn't pay to procrastinate when it comes to personal injury cases. Taking action quicker means quicker compensation, but there are also rules in every state that limits the amount of time you have to file a case against the wrongdoer. While those time limits vary, in most cases the judge will "throw out" cases that were not filed in time. There are, however, some very specific circumstances that may extend the statute of limitations, also known as "tolling". Read on to learn why you may still have time to file.
Discovering Harm Done
One of the most common uses of the statute of limitation exception is the discovery of harm. This concept is based on the fact that there is no way that you could have taken action against the wrongdoer if you had no idea until later on that harm was being done to you. Why would someone have no idea that harm was being done? Look at this example: a worker was exposed to asbestos fibers for years at their workplace, but it took some time for the worker to realize it. It's important to understand that once the victim becomes aware of the harm done, the statute of limitations clock begins to tick away.
Four Other Exceptions
Minors were harmed: since minors are unable to take part in lawsuits, the law accommodates them by extending the statute of limitation to begin ticking when they reach their majority, usually their 18th birthday. It should be noted that the parents of a minor are always able to file suit on their behalf for any wrongs done to them.
The victim moved away: In some instances, moving out of state can put a temporary hold on the statute of limitation. If they then return to the state the time to file suit begins to decrease again.
The victim is mentally incapacitated: There is actually no statute of limitations of victims that are too impaired to take action. Their legal guardians may file suit at any time without limitation.
The victim is physically incapacitated: Anyone who has suffered harm but is somehow unable to file suit gains an exception. For example, people who are in a coma can wait to file suit when and if they recover and are cleared by a doctor.
As you can see, just because some time has passed doesn't mean that it's too late to file. Speak to a personal injury attorney before you give up.