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Statutes of Limitation

How long do I have to bring a lawsuit?

There are many reasons that might lead you to seek the assistance of an attorney and pursue a claim against another party – it might stem from a dispute over a breached contract, or an injury accident caused by the other parties’ negligence. The laws of each state impose a time limit, known as a Statute of Limitation, in which these claims must be brought.

Not only do these time limits vary from state to state, but may vary for specific types of claims as well. For example:

  • Limitations for most Personal Injury claims range anywhere from 1 to 6 years. 27 states currently have a statute of limitations for Personal Injury claims of 2 years or less. Here in Tennessee the limitation is 1 year.
  • Many states impose a separate limitation for claims of Professional Malpractice. Missouri has a 5-year limitation for Personal Injury claims but 2 years for professional malpractice. Tennessee imposes a 1-year limitation.
  • Wrongful death may also have a distinct limitations period. Utah has a 4-year limitation for Personal Injury claims, but only 2 years for Wrongful death claims.

There are a number of reasons to encourage a plaintiff to bring a lawsuit within a specified time. The first reason is that over time evidence can be corrupted or disappear; Memories fade, accident scenes are changed, and companies get rid of records. So, the best time to bring a lawsuit is while the evidence is not lost and as close to the incident as possible. Another reason is that people want to get on with their lives and not have legal battles from their past come up unexpectedly. The injured party has a responsibility to quickly bring their charges so that the process can begin.

When does the limitation period begin to run?

There are a number of factors that could potentially weigh on your ability to bring a lawsuit, but the answer is generally that a statute of limitation begins to run from the date of the event that gives rise to the claim. For example, if you are injured as the result of someone else’s negligence, the limitation period begins to run as of the date of that injury accident. If the exact date of the injury is not apparent, as is sometimes the case in claims of medical malpractice, a discovery rule may apply, and the limitation may run from the date the injury was or should have been discovered.

It should be apparent that the rules governing when you are permitted to bring a claim are often quite complex. In addition to the Statute of Limitations, a claim could be barred by a Statute of Repose, or shortened by an agreement between the parties. If you have questions, the Nashville accident & injury attorneys of Pohl & Berk can assist you in assessing your claim, help you understand your rights, and determine whether you may be entitled to compensation.

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