Many of us hear the term statute of limitations or “SOL”, but we rarely understand the importance of a such statutes and the impact they have on our ability to bring forward a case. Below our resident attorney Farid Yaghoubtil, explains what statute of limitations mean and the application of statutes to your case.
Statute of Limitations Generally
A statutory limitation is essentially a timer on your case. What this means is that you have a certain number of days from the time of the accident to bring a case or lawsuit for your injuries. A common question is, how long do I have before the statute runs out? And the answer is that each case is different. You may have 6 months to one 4 years and if you are a minor, been incarcerated or on military duty these statutes can be extended. It is important to remember that these timelines are set forth by law, therefore once they pass, it becomes very challenging to overcome the issue. Attorneys refer to a case in which the statute has passed as “lapsed”. The proper term is “the filing period has lapsed”. Remember that your attorney has a duty to know of these filing deadlines.
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How do statute of limitations apply to my case?
Every case has a statute of limitations. For example in California you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file your case. If it is against a public entity you have 6 months from the date of the accident. Generally when you are involved in an accident your attorney will attempt to negotiate and settle with the insurance company or defendant. If the parties cannot reach a reasonable settlement then your attorney will file a lawsuit. Once the lawsuit is filed the statute is preserved. It is advisable that pre-litigation negotiations take place before the running of a statute so that there is plenty of time to prepare the complaint and serve the at fault parties.
What if you are a minor?
The law treats minors differently with regards to personal injury claims. If you are a minor statutes may not apply to you until you reach the age of majority, which is usually 18 years old in most jurisdictions. With certain minor claims you have until the age of 6 or the age of 8 to file a claim for your injuries. If you have been injured as a minor there are special protections under the law for filing your lawsuit. Speak with a personal injury attorney to better understand your rights.