Statute of Limitations in Your Claim

Statute of Limitations in Your Claim

When staying up to date and following lawsuits, you will often hear the term, statute of limitations. At The Lake Law Firm, we constantly receive questions from people wondering if they still fall within the statute of limitations. So, what exactly is a statute of limitations? This legal phrase refers to procedural rules that limit or allow legal action based on a designated time frame. Basically, the statute of limitations dictates whether a potential plaintiff still falls within the appropriate time limit to file a lawsuit. The limitations vary from state to state and depend on the type of claim. The rules regarding the statute of limitations in your state may change annually, so it is necessary to consult a trusted attorney for your claim. 

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations determines a period of time in which a person can legally file a claim against another. This time limit applies to both civil and criminal legal proceedings. The statute of limitations is a longstanding legal concept that dates back all the way to ancient Greece and Rome. In the United States, Congress permits a federal agency to define its own statute of limitations. Therefore, the reasonable amount of time will differ from state to state and even from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. 

Although the timeframe changes based on location and type of claim, a statute of limitations can range from a few years up to thirty years. Also, certain felonies will have no time limit restrictions. Common crimes or wrongdoings like trespassing or destruction of property will usually have a different timeframe compared to more severe claims like murder or sexual assault. These more serious crimes generally have a much longer filing period. The allotted time and the start date change depending on the offense committed. However, once a statute of limitations expires, you can no longer file a lawsuit against the alleged offender. 

Why Do We Have a Statute of Limitations?

We understand that a statute of limitations may prove frustrating. Our attorneys believe that everyone has the right to justice, but there are several reasons why these restrictions are in place. The statute of limitations primarily exists to protect defendants from unjust legal action. Over time, key evidence may become lost. If this happens, the defendant will no longer have the necessary evidence to properly defend themselves against legal action in court. A statute of limitations intends to preserve credible evidence that may degrade or disappear. 

For example, eyewitness testimony can falter. Gradually, an eyewitness may not be able to recollect or remember events accurately. Courts may consider the delayed eyewitness testimony unreliable and insufficient to prove or disprove claims. Also, the passage of time can corrupt relevant DNA. This evidence is crucial in some cases as it places the supposed offender at the scene of the alleged offense. Furthermore, pertinent documents to support or refute a claim may become irretrievable or lost to time. 

Discovery Rule and Tolling

A statute of limitations may begin on the date the incident occurred or when the filing party discovered the incident. The discovery rule can lengthen the time frame and applies to specific claims and circumstances. In some instances, the plaintiff may not be aware of injuries or losses suffered until after the initial event. So, the discovery rule provides the party more time to file based on when they discovered or should have discovered the harmful occurrence. Usually, a discovery rule applies to medical malpractice, personal injury, and product liability claims. 

Tolling is when the law suspends or pauses the statute of limitations under special circumstances. Conditions that factor into tolling include if the party was a minor, out of state, legally insane, or filed for bankruptcy. Once the condition ends, then the time clock begins. 

The Lake Law Firm Wants to Help You

There are several nuances and exceptions concerning the statute of limitations. Don’t wait or guess regarding your potential claim. If you are unsure as to the statute of limitations in your situation, it is best to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. At the Lake Law Firm, our expert staff is on standby to assist you with any of your questions. 

The Lake Law Firm was founded by Edward J. Lake, Esq., a personal injury lawyer for over 25 years. Our dedicated team of attorneys is committed to seeking justice on behalf of those who have suffered injury or death due to the negligence of others. Our experienced attorneys handle many different types of pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and other defective products. The lawyers in our firm have helped collect millions of dollars for their clients. The Lake Law Firm will advocate for you and your rights. Please contact us for a free confidential case evaluation at (888) 274-0139.