Limitation Periods in Civil Bodily Injury Lawsuits – What are they?


Kevin J. Kohn, Bronx Personal Injury Lawyer

The lawyer explains the key feature of civil litigation designed to promote finality in tort cases that could lead to prosecution. by Christopher Hazlehurst

This is a reasonable limitation, as it gives the complainant sufficient time to gather the relevant facts and circumstances surrounding the accident and to locate the responsible parties or entities. “

– Kevin J. Kohn, Bronx Personal Injury Lawyer

BRONX, NEW YORK, USA, October 4, 2021 / – The “statute of limitations” is the time within which a legal action must be filed. Almost all types of legal action, both civil and criminal, have a statute of limitations. The specific time limit varies depending on the type of complaint, the nature of the parties and the state in which the complaint is filed. Each state has its own rules regarding limitation periods for various types of legal claims. Typically, the “statute of limitations” begins whenever the complaint accumulates, that is, whenever the underlying incident giving rise to the complaint has occurred. The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim based on a car accident, for example, would begin on the day of the accident.

The main purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that lawsuits are dealt with in a timely manner. If a person wishes to take legal action against another party, they must exercise due diligence in pursuing their actions. Defendants shouldn’t be asking themselves if they can be responsible for something that happened 20 years ago.

In addition, limitation periods aim to ensure that the evidence relating to the case does not become outdated or disappear. Witnesses and parties move or die, documents go missing, and hard evidence can become almost impossible to find. This is especially true when the case revolves, in part, on the memory of the parties or witnesses; people forget over time. The statute of limitations aims to promote rapid resolution of issues so that as much relevant evidence as possible can always be obtained and produced.

General statutes of limitation for personal injury actions

The statute of limitations for personal injury actions varies from state to state. Most states have a general limitation period that applies to most personal injury claims and specific time limits only for certain types of cases. In California, for example, the statute of limitations for a personal injury action is two years from the date of the underlying incident causing the injury. In New York, the general limitation period for personal injury claims is three years from the date of the injury.

An injured party must file its claim within the statute of limitations or risk the case being dismissed as untimely. Unless an exception applies, state courts are likely to dismiss cases filed after the limitation period has expired.

Are statutes of limitations fair for injury victims? New York City personal injury attorney Kevin Jay Kohn of the Kohn law firm thinks New York’s three-year statute of limitations is fair. “This is a reasonable limitation,” says Kohn, “because it gives the complainant sufficient time to gather the relevant facts and circumstances surrounding the accident and to locate the parties or entities responsible for bringing the action.” Kohn notes that the law also takes into consideration fairness to the defendant. “Limiting the law to three years allows the defendant to investigate any claim and contact possible witnesses.”

Special cases and exceptions to the general rule

Most states have special limitation periods for certain types of cases. Medical malpractice cases, for example, often have a longer statute of limitations, reflecting the fact that medical malpractice is often more difficult to identify. Public policy could also contribute to a further delay in bringing legal action; for example, New York has a special and extended statute of limitations for cases involving child sexual abuse.

The limitation period may also be different depending on the nature of the defendant. In most states, there is a much shorter time frame for filing claims against a government entity. States often impose additional procedural requirements for filing claims against a government agency or actor. For example, in New York City, the statute of limitations for filing an injury claim against a city or county entity is only one year, instead of the typical three-year period. Additionally, attorney Kohn points out that in order to file a personal injury claim against a public entity in New York, the injured party must file a “notice of claim” with the agency within 90 days of the injury. Therefore, says Kohn, “any action against a government agency must begin within one year and ninety days” of the accident or injury. Missing that all-important 90-day window can mean losing any chance of recovery, even if a public official was clearly responsible for the victim’s injuries.

Limitation period toll

In some circumstances, the limitation period can be “calculated” or delayed until a particular triggering event, either by suspending the toll period or by delaying it to start at a later date. In a case of bodily injury, for example, the claimant’s injury might not be immediately detectable. If a person has been poisoned by asbestos over time, or if they have been the victim of medical malpractice, they might not know they are injured for some time after the actual incident. In such a case, state law generally establishes that the limitation period does not begin until the harm is discovered (or should have been discovered with due diligence). In California, for example, if personal injury is not discovered right away, the victim has one year from the date on which they discover their injury to present their claim.

In many states, if the injured party is legally incapable of asserting their rights – if they are a minor under the age of 18, or if they are considered insane due to injury, d ‘illness or disability – period limitations may be counted until their legal incapacity is lifted (they reach 18 years of age, are declared sane, etc.) Likewise, if the person who caused the injury leaves the state after the accident but before the action a long time, then this time might not count towards the statute of limitations. The clock will essentially remain paused while the person cannot be legally served or reasonably found.

Kevin J. Kohn
Kohn Law Firm
+1 718-409-1200
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