Archive for October, 2012

Time Limits in Personal Injury Cases

Posted on October 26, 2012

Time Limits in Personal Injury Cases

Lawsuits that arise from an accident or an injury are subject to a legal rule known as the statute of limitations. This rule dictates the time frame within which a legal claim must be filed. If an individual fails to file their claim in accordance with the specified statute of limitations, they lose their right to sue for the accident or injury in question. Unfortunately, statues of limitations are not uniform for all types of personal injuries, in all situations, and in all states.

The time period specified by a statute of limitations typically begins the moment when the plaintiff knew (or should reasonably have known) that they sustained harm, as well as the nature of the harm they suffered. This is known as the discovery of harm rule. The discovery of harm rule would apply primarily to personal injury claims pertaining to medical malpractice and other situations in which an injured individual may not become aware of their injuries for some time; rarely would the discovery of harm rule arise in car accident or slip-and-fall type claims, as injuries associated with those situations tend to be ‘discovered’ immediately, or relatively soon after the accident.

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What are the Stages of a Personal Injury Case

A personal injury case begins as soon as a person is injured. Witnesses and other evidence of the injury are essential for establishing the case regardless whether the case develops into a lawsuit that goes all the way to trial, or whether it settles outside of court a short time after the injury. The sooner any witnesses or other evidence are located, the less likely they will be lost or forgotten.

Intake: The Initial Meeting of the Lawyer and Client

When an injured person consults with an attorney to represent him or her, the personal injury attorney typically reviews the facts explained to determine the case’s likelihood for success. The personal injury attorney calls this initial meeting of fact gathering between himself and the injured person the intake. The attorney considers many factors that will affect the case, including the time that has passed since when the injury first occurred, the evidence the client presents to him of the injury, the evidence he can expect to obtain in the future, the availability of any persons who witness what caused the injury, the ability of the person or company that caused the injury to adequately provide compensation, the costs he expects the case will incur, among several other factors. He may want to interview other witnesses or do further investigation before agreeing to accept the case. He may also consider whether the case would best be resolved through litigation or by some alternative method of resolving the dispute, such as through arbitration.

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