When you are the victim of the negligent actions of another person, business, or other entity, from a moral standpoint, you are always justified in your request for compensation. This is true no matter the circumstances. However, in the eyes of the law, your right to compensation does have an expiration date. Ignoring or overlooking this factor can have significant and lasting consequences.
Statute Of Limitations
One could say that the term statute of limitations is basically legal jargon for an expiration clock. Based on this guideline, an accident victim only has a certain amount of time to file their claim. Should this expiration clock reach zero, the individual basically loses their right to have their case heard and decided upon in a court of law.
One of the most important things to understand about this rule is that it is separate from guilt. To put this into perspective, consider a motor vehicle accident. Say there was clear evidence showing that Driver A was speeding, ran a stop sign and collided into Driver B's vehicle – resulting in injury and physical damage. Even with overwhelming evidence, if Driver B fails to take their claim to court within a timely manner, they lose their rights.
There Is No National Standard
Make certain you understand that there is no one-size-fits-all requirement as it pertains to the statute of limitations. This requirement is not outlined at the federal level, but is instead determined at the state level. For this reason, the amount of time you have to file your claim will vary widely from state to state.
For instance, in North Dakota and Maine, you have 6 years to submit a claim; however, residents in Kentucky and Tennessee are only allotted one year to do so. Understanding your state's requirements is critical to you receiving the compensation you need.
Don't Let Your Clock Expire
If you have been involved in an incident, it's important to start moving your case along in the right direction immediately. There is a somewhat common misconception that an individual can't initiate a claim until they have recovered from their injuries or have assessed all the damage. This is simply untrue. You have a legal right to file a claim while also further investigating the specifics of your injuries or damages. Don't wait.
If you have been involved in an accident, speak with an attorney to ensure you get your case in motion and don't lose your legal right to seek the compensation you both need and deserve