Statutes of Limitations Issues for Personal Injury Cases
If you are relying on a recent change by the legislature in the statute of limitations, be sure to research whether the change applies only to cases that occur after the effective date of the new law or whether it applies retroactively. If the change in the law does not apply retroactively, you may not be able to revive a case that was time barred by the previously existing statute of limitations deadline.
For obvious injuries, like those resulting from car accidents, the time period begins when the injury occurs. However, different deadlines apply to certain kinds of cases. In medical malpractice cases, most states set the start time on the date you first discovered or should have discovered the malpractice. It is a good idea to start the suit within two years from the alleged malpractice since this may be the date on which you should have discovered it.
One of the most difficult types of calls a personal injury attorney can get is when a potential client says he or she was badly injured and the statute of limitations runs out next week. A busy attorney will often decline to take such a case because he does not want to take the risk that the suit cannot be filed on time or that he or she will have to file a suit before knowing if there are actual grounds for filing.
Learn your deadline as soon as you can and mark it on all of your calendars. If you delay hiring an attorney, be sure to contact one at least a month before the deadline.