Personal injury cases are ones where a begrudged party, a plaintiff, decides to bring the matter surrounding their injury before a court with the legal help of a Fresno injury lawyer. The injury could include a number of things including physical pains from accidents, emotional hurt, defamation, health complication amongst others. But, with almost every case, there is a statute of limitations guiding when such a case can be brought to a court, and this would be necessary to know before contacting a Fresno Personal Injury Lawyer Nearby.
Personal Injury Case
First, it would be good to understand what a personal injury case is. A personal injury case is a claim brought forward by someone, alleging that the actions, or inactions, of some other person, has inflicted a form of injury upon them. This could be someone being hit by a bus or hit on the head with a tool, or even someone ingesting a bad product. The endpoint of such a case as this is to seek compensation for the injury which has been sustained or other damages caused by the actions or inactions of the other party. The person may decide to bring the matter up before a court in a bid to seek redress or compensation, most times monetary. The pain does not have to be physical, but as long as it creates an inconvenience, or impedes on the day to day life of the individual, affecting it adversely.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations could be described as the limit or time frame regarding a particular case and when it can be brought to court. What this means is that the statute of limitations is something akin to a validity period for a case for when it can be entertained in court. So a person has within that period to file charges or sue the offender.
Now, laws vary from state to state, and so does the statute of limitations. In California, according to Section 355.1 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, a person has up to two years to file charges involving a personal injury. That is two years starting from the day the incident happened.
So let us say a certain man, Jim, got hit by a bus on the 15th of May, 2012. Mr. Jim has until exactly the 15th of May, 2014, to bring the matter before the court.
However, not every claim gets a two-year time frame. If the injury was committed by a governmental institution, body or agency, then the limit is set to six months.
Failure to file the case under the general two year period could make the case lose its legality, and it may not be attended to when you do file it. Even if the court admits the case, maybe without knowing it has exceeded the time limit set, the defendant could readily bring that up, and the case could be struck out with haste. Even if you have decided to settle the matter out of court, possibly with the defendant and their insurance company, it is still important that it is done within that two-year time frame.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Despite these, there are still exceptions to this two-year limit. That is, it is still possible to bring up the personal injury lawsuit before a court of law even after the period given by the statute of limitation under some certain conditions, some of which include;
1. The Discovery of Harm Rule
This rule allows the plaintiff the right to file charges the moment they notice the injury, rather than the day it was committed. The victim may not have been able to know that the accident could lead to a spinal cord injury two years later or something of that nature. Basically, the rule gives anyone the right to still file a personal injury lawsuit for an incident, regardless of how long ago, that has now resulted in something more serious, or complicated, and can cause great discomfort to the person. Most times, the plaintiff may not have been able to come up with enough or concrete proof to show that someone meant to harm them in any way.
In this case, the plaintiff has to come up with evidence like medical reports to prove that their injury was only very recent.
2. Escape of the suspect
If the suspect had already left California after the incident, and right before the victim could get a chance to file charges. They could, however, proceed to file once the suspect is back in the state or country.
Being underage can also allow one to have enough time to take up their case beyond the two-year limit as set by the law. ‘Underage’ in this case means that the victim of such injury is below the legal age of consent which is set at 18 years for most states. The person can then file the charges the moment they turn 18. So if even if the injury was suffered when such an individual was 15 years old, they can still seek legal redress three years after at the clock of 18.
The last two conditions are examples of what is considered to pause the statute of limitations. This means that the statute of limitations does not start working in those cases until the conditions are met, that is when the suspect returns or when the plaintiff turns 18. This may seem tricky, anyway and it is best to seek legal advice to be sure of how to correctly establish this.
The statute of limitations is necessary because of human nature. It is possible that in the long run, we may forget things or mix up facts, mistaking one thing for the other. The longer these things have happened, the more we are likely to get them confused. Hence it is necessary to bring everything under a time frame, as it would benefit both the defendant and the plaintiff. Working with a statute of limitations allows you file your case as soon as you can, meaning you still have your facts fresh, including details like time, color, weather, and other things to make your case stronger and more believable.
It is very necessary, when making a personal injury case, to consult with an experienced lawyer. As with all cases, no two personal injury cases can be the same. So it is not always possible or easy to guess the outcome, but having a good lawyer can help you tick some boxes.