KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
…to bring claims that is.
A significant part of my practice involves tort litigation, specifically representing those injured as a result of the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another. Unfortunately, at times the injured client waits before consulting with an attorney only to be told at the initial meeting that they are beyond an important notice or limitation period and are barred from pursuing an otherwise legitimate claim. So what is a “statute of limitations” or a “notice of claim” provision in a statute? It is merely a set length of time beyond which the right to file a lawsuit is lost because statutory notice was not given timely or the suit papers not filed timely with the court.
Different type of claims are subject to different limitation periods, both for filing the lawsuit and giving notice where required by statute. The facts giving rise to the claim should always be evaluated immediately as the nature of the claim and the identity of the responsible party will determine the applicable time periods. Some common deadlines are as follows:
- Negligence or reckless claims, including claims arising out of automobile accidents and slip and falls on private property: Two years to file suit.
- Intentional torts, such as assault and battery: Three years to file suit.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist claims: Three years to file suit unless the insurance policy does not specify a limit in which case six years; but specific provisions of the policy may also require prior notice.
- Product liability claims: Three years to file suit.
- Negligence claims against the state: One year to give notice to the claims commissioner.
- Claims based on defective roads or sidewalks: Ninety days to give notice to the municipality or state and two years to file suit provided adequate notice has been given.
- Dram Shop claims: One year to file suit provided notice of injury was given within 120 days or notice of death given within 180 days.
There are, in some instances, tolling provisions whereby the time periods can be extended based on specific facts, as well as repose periods which establish outside deadlines beyond which claims cannot be pursued. Many factors can affect the time limits of the various claims and the sooner a victim of an injury consults with an attorney familiar with the applicable limitation periods the less chance there is that the claim will be precluded as untimely.
If you or a loved one has been injured through the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another, it is important to consult with an attorney familiar with tort litigation immediately so as to protect your rights.
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