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When the Statute of Limitations Clock Starts Ticking

When the Statute of Limit…

Every personal injury case has a time limit or deadline set as to how much time can be allowed to pass before you file a personal injury lawsuit in court. Once this deadline or time limit has lapsed you automatically lose your right to sue the at-fault party. This article will discuss issues that arise with statutes of limitations.

According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute [Statute of limitations | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)] statute of limitations is defined as, “any law that bars claims after a certain period of time passes after an injury. The period of time varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of claim in question”. That being said, it is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all statute of limitations. Each and every state has its own statute of limitations and these vary in accordance to the type of claim being pursued. This is noted in that one state may allow for different statute of limitations in different cases. For example, it may allow a year for a plaintiff to file a personal injury claim, while it may allow four years for a plaintiff to file a breach-of-contract claim. However, in the case of Alaska statute of limitations personal injury [https://www.crowsonlaw-wasilla.com/] claims have a two-year deadline after an incidents occurrence to file a lawsuit in court.

Now while the deadline period may be noted, the question then is when does the clock start ticking? Generally, the clock starts ticking on the date of harm; this basically means that the date when you have suffered injury, your property has been damaged, etc. This is when the clock starts ticking for your statute of limitations. That being said, there exists exceptions to this basic rule.

The reason these exceptions exist is in order to protect the plaintiff when they are not aware that they have been harmed. There are many instances whereby a plaintiff may go for months or even years before they realize that they have suffered harm. As a result, in such cases the statute of limitations clock only begins to tick on the date of discovery of the harm. Or it starts to tick on the date on which the plaintiff should have discovered this harm. 

To put this into perspective, some legal actions’ statute of limitations can start at three different times. These times are:

  • The date of harm - this is the earliest period at which the statute of limitations clock begins. Often, it is when a person is injured and immediately knows they are injured. For example, in a car accident where an individual breaks their wrist.
  • The date a plaintiff reasonably should have discovered their harm - when a judge considers it to be fair to say that the plaintiff should have known about their harm. This applies even if the plaintiff did not actually know about it. For example, when a simple surgery results in complications.
  • The date the plaintiff actually discovered harm. For example, when a patient gets a second opinion about an issue and is advised of the harm.

The truth is that the process of law is complicated, so speak to a lawyer for advice and representation. 

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