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Filing a claim quickly matters: The Statute of Limitations

When it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit, you need to make a decision quickly. There are statute of limitation laws that create a deadline after which you can no longer file a claim.

The statute of limitations vary by the kind of case and location. The time restrictions in one state may not be the same in another. In most states, the limit is within one and six years for personal injury lawsuits.

The kind of case you have affects the length of time to claim as well. For example, if you are hurt while a minor, you may have longer to file. Likewise, if you don't know about an injury until years after it occurs, then you may be able to file a claim. This is covered under the discovery of harm rule, which states that the statute of limitations begins when a person filing a lawsuit found out about or should have known about an injury. This is particularly pertinent in medical malpractice cases, since patients may not realize harm has been done until months or years later.

Any delay in discovery does need to be reasonable. For instance, if you had eye surgery and had some blurred vision months afterward, the normal action would be to seek medical attention. If you wait so long that it gets worse, the medical provider could argue that you didn't seek care when the problem first arose and you should have known something was wrong.

Your attorney can help you prove that your personal injury occurred within the statute of limitations, so you have a right to a claim. You shouldn't have to live with an injury and cover its costs when it's another person's fault.

Source: FindLaw, "Time Limits to Bring a Case: The 'Statute of Limitations'," accessed Oct. 18, 2017

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