What Is The Statute of Limitations?

After a harmful event occurs, the law states that there is a limited period of time before the victim can file a claim as a form of complaint. The statute of limitations sets an allowable maximum time for any involved parties to initiate a dispute and begin legal proceedings. If you experienced a personal injury 5 years ago but never initiated a settlement claim or lawsuit, the statute of limitations would have expired, preventing you from seeking damages. Also, the statute of limitations is different in each state and typically begins based on when the incident occurred. Typically it is 2 years, which means that if you waited one day past 2 years, then you would be unable to initiate a lawsuit regarding the damages caused by the incident over 2 years ago.

Civil Cases vs. Criminal Cases

The statute of limitations time limit differs based on the type of claim and the jurisdiction. Civil cases may be treated differently from that of criminal cases. In the case of a serious crime, there may be no statute of limitations for this type of claim. While some legal cases may require that the date begins on the day the illegal activity was discovered, a criminal case, on the other hand, may have no maximum time period or statute of limitations. According to international law, war crimes, inhumane crimes, and genocide have no statute of limitations. However, for a civil case, the date is listed as when the accident occurred. However, this time may be extended for several reasons. 

Statute of Limitations Exceptions

The statute of limitations may be extended when crucial evidence is somehow lost, allowing time to recover the evidence. There may also be the need to find additional evidence, and the jury may rule that the time is extended to allow further investigation. In some cases, witnesses' memories have faded, and they need additional time to recover information about what they saw. If the defendant continues to do wrongdoing and their neglectful activity happens more than once, this can also cause an extended statute of limitations. This is especially the case if the plaintiff experienced multiple injuries that continue over time because of their actions.  

Another exception to the statute of limitations is the discovery rule, allowing the temporary suspension of the maximum time period. For example, if someone was injured and was unable to discover the injury promptly for a good reason, the statute of limitations can be suspended. This can be the case if a soft tissue injury or another hidden wound took time to reveal itself. The jury can extend the statute of limitations and base the starting date on the day that the injury was discovered. 

For children, the statute of limitation will be longer. A child will have up until age 18 and an additional 2 years to file a malpractice suit. This is so the child has the right to file a lawsuit once they are old enough to acknowledge they’ve been wronged.