How Long After an Accident Can You Claim Injury?
One of the most important features of American law is the statute of limitations. In the United States, every jurisdiction sets a statute of limitations for specific causes of action. In most jurisdictions, the statute of limitations is two years from the investigative work to determine if you can still seek financial compensation for your injuries. The following information will guide you to learn more about the statute of limitations and why you need an experienced Austin personal injury attorney to file injury claims after the date of an accident.
The Statute of Limitations and Public Policy
The statute of limitations exists to preserve evidence and avoid using stale evidence to hold someone civilly liable for conduct that occurred many years ago. Also, defendants should not worry about defending lawsuits from conduct or events 50 years ago. Therefore, most jurisdictions have a two-year or three-year statute of limitations period.
This timeframe means that in the two-year statute of limitations jurisdiction, the plaintiff must assert his legal claims within two years from the date of the incident. In a three-year statute of limitations jurisdiction, the injured party has three years from the date of injury to assert legal claims in a complaint.
The time limit imposes order on what may otherwise be a chaotic procedural free fall. The individual litigants can then use evidence that is not stale and acceptable to the plaintiff and the defendant. Old evidence may no longer be relevant to the claims litigated by the parties. Each party needs to know how the statute of limitations applies to their case.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Actions
The statute of limitations for personal injury actions can change if the individual who suffered harm is incapacitated or a minor. A person who gains mental capacity or reaches eighteen will then begin to count down to the two-year statute of limitations period. A person lacking mental capacity should not face disadvantages for their condition; therefore, the statute of limitations pauses until the person reaches capacity.
Children should not have their claims dismissed because they were born during a particular year. A child’s parents may not have access to a lawyer, or the child may not have an appointed guardian. However, it can be challenging to deal with any child when trying to protect their legal rights.
A Different Statute of Limitations Timeline Will Apply To Separate Causes of Action
Different causes of action will have unique statutes of limitations and periods that apply to them, and it is vital to use the statute of limitations period to your advantage. Understanding why specific causes of action have shorter or longer periods is also beneficial.
Only some causes of action may have issues related to the preservation of evidence, and certain criminal offenses, such as murder, may have no statute of limitations given the transgressive nature of the crime. Research and diligence will be required to determine what needs to happen for any given cause of action.
Most civil lawsuits are composed of several causes of action. Some of those claims may be state claims, and some of them may be federal claims. However, the statute of limitations will differ for each cause of action. Therefore, you need an experienced attorney to advise you on how to file your claims effectively.
You Should Not Wait to File Your Legal Claims
You should immediately file your legal claims. If you wait too long, judges refer to this as “resting on your rights.” You want to demonstrate to the judge that you are taking your claims seriously and wish to seek financial compensation for your injuries as soon as possible. Also, defense counsel may attempt to argue that you did not seek medical care or an attorney after the date of the injury because you did not suffer any injuries. You must be strategic about when you file your legal claims and serve the defendants with the process.
Some Injuries Are Not Immediately Discernible
Some injuries may initially appear minor and only become more severe weeks or months after the date of the injury. It is essential to continue to seek medical treatment and determine what you need to do to treat your injuries if they worsen over time. You may have to see a medical professional for the proper diagnosis and medication management protocol. Understanding how to seek medical treatment is crucial because sometimes you may assume that your injuries are only minor when, in fact, they are severe.
Avoid Gaps In Your Medical Treatment
The time log associated with your medical treatment should not contain any significant time gaps. These gaps may cause other parties to infer that you did not seek medical treatment from a professional. You do not have to make your entire medical treatment log perfect. Still, you should have a delineated timeline for your medical treatment, which will inform the insurance company of the nature and extent of your injuries.
You must file your claims early enough to avoid gaps in your medical treatment. The gap in time between the date of the incident that caused your injuries and the date of your medical treatment will cause the insurance company to question whether too much time has passed between the date of the incident and the date of your medical treatment. Therefore, it is in your best interest to file a legal claim and seek medical care immediately after the date of the incident. You will satisfy the statute of limitations period and can also avoid the problems that may arise by asserting your legal claims later.
Evaluating Your Total Damages Amount
Evaluating the total damages amount associated with your case will take time. You want to review medical records and work with your attorney to determine how best to calculate the damages related to your injuries. These damages may rise or fall depending on the facts of your case and the medical treatment you received after the accident.
You can still add up your total damages after filing a civil complaint, and it will preserve your legal claims and your legal rights. You can build rapport with opposing counsel and discuss a potential settlement agreement by being prompt, vigilant, and dependable.
Paying Your Automobile Accident Bills Promptly
It is necessary to pay any medical and automobile repair bills on time so you do not go into debt or have any delinquent accounts on your credit file. You want to settle your accounts and use those documents to claim damages in your personal injury case. However, you should not delay asserting your legal claims against the defendant. The following are bills you may need to pay:
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Ambulance rides
- Physical therapy
- Medical bills
- Lost income
You want to provide a calculation of the pain and suffering damages amount associated with your case and a computation of damages. If you do not assert your legal claims until much later, you will not provide the defense with an accurate amount of the damages associated with your case.
You May Lose Evidence If You Wait to Assert Your Legal Claims
The preservation of evidence is additional justification for the statute of limitations. Preserving evidence is prioritized by setting a time bar for asserting legal claims. If evidence degrades over time, it will no longer be admissible or valuable at trial. The discovery phase of a case is quite long, but the scope of discoverable evidence is broader than the scope of admissible evidence. Therefore, parties may exchange different forms of evidence during discovery, but several documents may not be admissible.
If you wait too long after your claim accrues, you can lose the evidence associated with the case. It will benefit you over the long term if you assert your claims in a complaint early on rather than waiting until after the statute of limitations period has passed. Speaking with a knowledgeable attorney will also give you insights into how best to assert your legal claims when you are still gathering evidence to support your claims.
A Delay May Cause You to Lose Your Rights
You do not want to lose your right to litigate your claims in court because you missed the statute of limitations period. If you do not file your claim within the statute of limitations period, you risk losing your chance to assert your legal claims. You will be unable to make up for the time lost, and you can lose your right to seek financial compensation for your injuries.
Staying focused on your case is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family members, so you do not have to worry about the deadline for asserting your legal claims. If you seek medical treatment for your injuries and then file a civil complaint, you will preserve your claims, and you can still gather evidence and work toward building your case. However, if you wait to file a civil complaint, you risk losing the case entirely and being unable to seek monetary compensation for your injuries.
Filing a Claim Does Not Mean You Will Immediately Receive a Settlement
Simply filing a claim does not guarantee you will receive a settlement immediately. While the claims process aims to compensate for your injuries, it is a complex and time-consuming process that requires careful consideration and thorough evaluation of your injuries and their impact on your life.
When you file a claim, it triggers a series of legal steps you and insurers must follow to determine the extent of your injuries, liability, and the appropriate amount of compensation you are entitled to. This process can take weeks, months, or even years, depending on the complexity of your case and the willingness of the insurance company to negotiate a fair settlement.
Before accepting a settlement offer, you must know the full extent of your injuries and their long-term implications on your physical, emotional, and financial well-being. The initial settlement offer from the insurance company may seem tempting, especially if you face mounting medical bills and other expenses. However, accepting a settlement without fully understanding the prognosis of your injuries can have serious consequences in the long run.
By seeking the guidance of a skilled injury attorney, you can ensure that your injuries are thoroughly evaluated and that you receive the appropriate medical treatment and compensation you deserve. An experienced attorney will review your medical records, consult with medical experts if necessary, and consider all the factors that may impact the value of your claim. They will fight for your rights and negotiate with the insurance company to secure a fair and just settlement that considers your current and future needs.
Filing a claim is just the first step in the process of seeking compensation for your injuries. Do not rush into accepting a settlement offer without fully understanding the extent of your injuries and their long-term effects. Your attorney will work diligently to protect your rights and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
You must reach out for legal representation to protect your legal rights. The right attorneys can guide you through every aspect of your case so you can make the best decision regarding your legal rights. If you suffered personal injuries, you can retain a top-rated personal injury law firm in Austin that will defend you at every step. We want to present the evidence to support your legal claims, and our goal is to provide you with everything you need to litigate your claims successfully.