It depends. But one thing's for sure: if you miss the deadline, you lose your rights, period. It doesn't matter how bad you're hurt or how wrongly you got treated, you won't be compensated for it.
The Threat To The Inexperienced
Just figuring out the deadline can be a complicated process, depending on the type of case you've got, and who it was that hurt you. In some cases, it can be hard to figure out exactly when the accident happened, so you can't pinpoint when your time started to run. This is especially true in medical malpractice cases, when victims often don't realize the medical mistake until long after it occurred.
It's all the more reason to immediately ask an experienced personal injury lawyer some basic questions about your case when you’ve been seriously injured by someone else's carelessness.
These are the very basics about your legal deadline. WARNING: NEVER, EVER ASSUME A DEADLINE APPLIES TO YOUR CASE. Verify how long you've got by asking an injury lawyer you trust- and don't be surprised if the answer requires some legal research first.
The Threat Named, And How To Defeat It
- The official name of the deadline [in case you want to impress your friends at parties]: It's a law called the “Statute of Limitations.”
- What you've got to do to beat the deadline. You've got to file a lawsuit against the parties that hurt you. And if more than one party could be legally responsible for your injury, you usually can't add a party after the deadline. That's why it's important to get your ducks in a row early on.
Different Parties, Different Deadlines
The length of the statute of limitations varies according to how the law defines a wrongdoer:
- Private [non-government-affiliated] parties- usually three years from the accident. This includes most people driving their own cars in car accident cases. It also includes private companies- but an important trick is determining whether a company's private or government-affiliated, since that dramatically reduces the deadline. Keep reading.
- Government-affiliated parties- usually two years from the accident. This includes state, county, and local agencies like police, or the Department of Transportation. But many seemingly private entities are actually legally government-affiliated. A key example is hospitals- many county hospitals are exactly that, legally affiliated with the government.
It's Pretty Easy To Put Your Fears To Bed
If you're wondering what your injury case deadline is, you don't even have to call. You can start a live chat right where you are to get your question answered by an experienced personal injury attorney. We're here to give you peace of mind, and make it as easy as possible for you to get justice.