As fallible human beings, we all know that honest accidents do happen. Sometimes, though, people act unreasonably, demonstrating a callous attitude toward the safety of others by displaying reckless or negligent behavior. Personal injury law exists to hold those people accountable through civil litigation.
If you’ve been physically or psychologically injured, your first step should be to retain a qualified counsel to guide you through the process. One big reason to retain a lawyer is the issue of the statute of limitations.
A statute of limitations gives you a time frame during which you can sue. If you miss that time window, the court may decline to hear your claim. Here’s what you need to know about the statute of limitations on personal injury law in Indiana and how to protect your rights to seek compensation for your injuries.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations sets a prescribed time period for people to initiate litigation. The law puts these time limits in place for efficiency and fairness. The longer a matter is pending before it goes to court, the more likely it is for evidence to be lost or memories to fade.
Statutes of limitations also serve as a check on parties from using time as a strategic tool — waiting years until situations change in favor of the plaintiff’s case before filing. Different areas of law maintain varying statutes of limitations, and there are also differences from one state to the next. The exact length depends on the type of case.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in Indiana
Indiana law gives plaintiffs a period of two years to take legal action in a personal injury case. This limitation governs all cases classified as personal injury claims, which includes injuries from the following:
- Car or truck accidents.
- Pedestrian accidents.
- Bicycle or motorcycle accidents.
- Slip-and-fall cases.
- Dog bites.
- Defective products.
In addition, the two-year statute of limitations applies to cases that involve injury to someone’s reputation, such as a claim for libel or defamation.
While two years may seem like a long time, there’s much to do before your claim or lawsuit is ready to be filed. You’d be surprised how quickly the statute of limitations arrives. It’s wise to assume that the clock begins to run on the day you’re injured or discover the injury.
In the interim, you and your lawyer have a lot of work to do in terms of investigating the circumstances of the case, establishing and documenting the damages, and writing and finding proof for the lawsuit. Your attorney may want to spend a portion of the time in negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company, as it may allow you to reach a financial agreement outside of court.
Exception for Child Sex Abuse
Crimes involving the sexual abuse of children are a unique circumstance under the law concerning the personal injury statute of limitations. Victims are typically too young or frightened to report what happened to them until they grow older. Recognizing this reality, Indiana law sets the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse at seven years from the date of the offense. Someone victimized by a family member has four years to file after they become independent of their abuser.
Other Types of Exceptions
The two-year statute of limitations also may not apply in certain other circumstances, but it’s best to assume that it always does. Those circumstances include injuries to a person who’s under the age of 18. Minors generally cannot be plaintiffs in lawsuits and must wait to file personal injury suits until they reach the age of majority. Once they turn 18, the statute of limitations begins to run, and the person has a two-year period to file their claim.
Other exceptions may apply when the person injured is disabled, or if the defendant has moved from the state before a lawsuit is filed. In that instance, the statute of limitations clock stops while the person is out of the state. The statute of limitations also doesn’t apply in cases where a defendant seeks to obscure their role in the events that led to the personal injury.
The final exception comes if you intend to sue a government body. In that instance, you have about 180 days or six months to serve the agency with notice of your intent to file a claim.
The attorneys at Alvarez Law understand the statute of limitations for personal injury cases and will work closely with you to ensure your rights are fully protected.
Recovering Damages in Personal Injury Cases
At a basic level, personal injury law gives people who’ve been hurt by others a conduit for seeking compensation for their injuries. Most commonly, these injuries are physical, though the law also covers damages to someone’s reputation and good name.
Generally, to succeed in a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove that someone acted recklessly or negligently. That’s not all, though. You also must prove that you were injured directly by the person’s actions and that person had a “duty of care.” Personal injury cases generally allow plaintiffs to recover economic damages, such as lost wages or the cost of medical care, and non-economic damages, including pain and suffering or emotional anguish. You and your attorney will have to work closely to document the value of your claim.
Personal Injury Counsel From Alvarez Law
The attorneys at Alvarez Law have extensive experience in all forms of personal injury, premises liability, wrongful death, construction site accidents, and workers’ compensation cases. We’ll apply our expertise on your behalf to seek the maximum amount of possible damages. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping people reclaim what they’ve lost from life-changing accidents.
Having an experienced attorney to manage the deadlines and other challenges in your case is important. We’ll investigate the circumstances of your case thoroughly and stay focused on what’s required to get you the compensation you deserve so you can concentrate on getting better. Call us or contact us online to schedule a no-obligation consultation.