After a car accident, the first thing that you will do once you have stabilized your injuries is to make contact with the insurance company and start the claims process. Since this is handled almost immediately to ensure that medical care is covered, most people do not have to worry about the Statute of Limitations. However, if you are going to file a lawsuit against the responsible party, the Statute of Limitations becomes a very meaningful law and can have an impact on your case. Call 856-284-6446 to speak with a New Jersey car accident lawyer.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
Many people believe that the Statute of Limitations laws only pertains to criminal cases. This is a misbelief. The Statute of Limitations applies to all legal actions, both civil and criminal, and are regulated by each state.
The reason that a state enacts limitation laws is to ensure that both parties in any legal action have a fair trial. Over time, evidence can be lost, witnesses can move or pass away, and memories can become cloudy. When this happens, it is impossible for a fair trial to be conducted. To avoid these problems, states enact laws that limit the time an action can be brought up in court so that both parties are treated fairly during the trial process.
States enact different time frames for different types of legal actions. Some activities may even be exempt from the Statute of Limitations.
Almost all civil actions, however, have a time limit on when you can file a lawsuit against another party based on when the event in question happened.
The Statute of Limitations and Car Accidents
Car accidents are legal actions that are generally divided into two categories. You have the personal injury and losses related to those injuries and the personal property damage and losses. In most states, the Statute of Limitations is different for each of these types of actions.
For personal injuries, the average time that you have to file a lawsuit for damages is two years from the date of the accident. Some states, like Florida, give you up to 4 years to file a lawsuit, while other states may only give you 18 months from the date of the accident.
For losses associated with damaged property, the average time you have to file a claim is 2.5 years. Some states like New Jersey will allow up to 6 years from the date of the incident to seek legal damages for your losses, while others will only allow two years to pass before the Statute of Limitations voids any actions.
Lawsuits Are Not Insurance Claims
The Statute of Limitations only applies to lawsuits and does not apply to insurance claims. Since an insurance claim is almost always started immediately when an accident occurs, there is no reason for these laws to apply to this type of action. Your insurance company may have guidelines on when an insurance claim can be filed as part of their policy, but this is not part of the Limitation laws.
If you have an insurance claim, it is always in your best interest to watch the timing of the negotiations. If you are unable to negotiate a settlement in a reasonable amount of time, you may have to sue the insurance company for your losses. This is when the Statute of Limitations comes into effect regarding your claim.
You will only have the state allowed time limit to file your case against the insurance company. So, if the negotiation process has been taking a long time and it does not appear that it will be easily resolved, you may need to file a lawsuit before the Statute of Limitations prevents you from making a claim.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Each state has the authority to make exceptions to its Statute of Limitation laws. While each state is different, the most common reasons that these laws can be waived include:
• The injured party was a minor at the time of the accident and has now reached adulthood.
• The injured party was considered mentally unsound at the time of the accident and has since recovered.
• Party being sued lived outside of the jurisdiction of the state and has now returned.
Speak with An Attorney About Your Car Accident Claim
The best way to avoid the problems associated with the Statute of Limitations and your car accident claim is to work with an attorney. Your attorney understands the limitation laws of your state and will make sure that your case always remains in compliance with these laws.