You’ve probably heard the term “statute of limitations” either on television or perhaps in movies. But do you know exactly what it means? These laws can have very real consequences in regards to your personal injury case so having at least a broad idea of what they entail can be quite important.
With this in mind, we’ve put together an overview to help you understand both what they are, and how they can affect your personal injury case.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that defines how long a person is able to initiate legal proceedings after the date of the issue in question. These limitations can vary depending on the offense, as well as the jurisdiction in which the offense took place.
These statutes most commonly apply to civil cases, which are cases relating to non-criminal offenses. However, that doesn’t mean criminal cases can’t have statutes of limitation. More serious crimes like murder, the sexual exploitation of a minor, and kidnapping don’t have these limitations so charges can be brought no matter how much time has passed. Lesser charges, however, can have associated limitations as to how long a victim can wait to start court proceedings.
Medical malpractice, for instance, has a statute of limitations of one year in Kentucky and Tennessee. This means that if you feel you were the victim of a harmful error at the hands of a medical professional, you need to find a injury lawyer quickly.
Personal Injury Limitations
Personal injury suits can be essential to the livelihood of the victim. Suffering an injury that takes you out of work can drastically affect your ability to provide for yourself and your family. That’s why we work so hard to get you the money you deserve.
However, these cases are quick to be over before they begin. The statute of limitations for a personal injury case, whether it’s the result of a vehicle accident or anything else, is one year.
This means you need to act quickly if you are the victim of a workplace accident, medical malpractice, or product liability issue.
It can be difficult to think of things such as criminal proceedings when you are focused on trying to heal. But the state doesn’t allow you much time to get the ball rolling.
Why Do Statutes of Limitations Exist?
It can seem like these laws are only there to protect the offender. After all, what’s the difference if you file a complaint 365 days after a traumatic event or 366 days after?
While it may not seem fair, you have to remember that our justice system is based on the assumption that every defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Our justice system also prides itself on providing ample time and resources for the defendant to defend themselves. A trial without a proper defense is illegitimate.
Imagine if you were accused of assaulting an individual last Tuesday. You have no idea what the police are talking about because you were shopping at the mall last Tuesday so it couldn’t possibly be you. This is concrete in your mind because it’s so recent. You remember last Tuesday vividly. And even more than that, you are able to dig up a receipt from the trashcan at the exact time of the assault.
You might be subject to further interrogations if you didn’t have access to all that information. Now imagine you’re accused of the same crime, but it’s from 13 months earlier. Do you remember where you were on this specific day last spring? Probably not. And there’s a good chance any of the people you came into contact with on that day don’t remember either. The possibility of digging a receipt out of your trash can is non-existent.
This is a quick snapshot of why these limitations exist. People need to be able to adequately defend themselves. Aside from the necessity of a proper defense, the law also places the responsibility of a reasonably diligent response on the plaintiff. If you are hurt, it is up to you to pursue legal action in a reasonable window of time. These limitations aim to define this reasonable window.
So What Do You Do If You Get Hurt?
The very first thing you should do is see your doctor. Focus on feeling better and making sure your injuries don’t get any worse. Your next call should be to the professionals at Bart Durham Injury Law. We’ve been working for the citizens of Tennessee and Kentucky for years to ensure they get the compensation they deserve.