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Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims

Posted in Our Blog on April 27, 2023

Recently, Michael Jefferson, a wide receiver in Louisiana was seriously injured in a car accident. Due to the injuries he suffered, he had to undergo multiple surgeries. Regardless of how good his auto insurance and health insurance are, he still may have the legal right to file a civil lawsuit for personal injury against the person responsible for the accident.

The decision to file a personal injury claim is not one that is typically made lightly. However, delaying that decision could be costly. In Louisiana, the time limitations for filing a personal injury claim can be onerous for victims. A Gretna personal injury lawyer can help you understand the importance of time limitations on personal injury claims.

Time Limitations Personal Injury Claims

Louisiana has a one-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. This means that a car accident victim has one year from the time they sustained an injury in an auto accident to file a claim. There are exceptions to these time limits, some of which include:

  • Victim is a minor — if a minor child is a victim of personal injury, the time limits may be extended until the time the child reaches the age of majority.
  • Defendant is out of state — if the person who caused the injury does not reside in Louisiana, the time limit may be extended.
  • Defendant and plaintiff negotiations — in some cases, if the injured party, and the person responsible are negotiating a settlement, it may be possible to extend the statute of limitations.
  • Permanent disability — if a victim suffered a permanent disability as the result of their injury, the time limits may not apply in their case.
  • Injury did not show up immediately — sometimes a person was unaware they suffered an injury. For example, in some car accidents, a victim may not become aware of an injury for several days or weeks following an accident. In this case, the statute of limitations would start tolling upon discovery of the injury.
  • Multiple parties responsible — if more than one party is found responsible for an accident which resulted in injury, the suit may be filed against one party and the victim does not lose their right to file a claim against additional parties even if the year has passed.

These are only some of the common reasons why the statute of limitations may be extended in a personal injury case. A Louisiana personal injury lawyer can review a case and help the victim determine if they are still within the time limits.

Terrifying Car Accident Statistics in Louisiana

Across Louisiana in one recent year, more than 66,000 people, both drivers and passengers, were involved in accidents resulting in injury. This does not include several hundred pedestrians, bicyclists, and others who suffered an injury.

Those who suffer an injury, or families who lose a loved one, have the right to seek compensation for their injury or their losses. Filing an insurance claim is often the first step, however, the fact is that in many cases, insurance will not cover the full extent of the losses someone has suffered. In Louisiana, a driver is only required to maintain liability for bodily injury in the amount of $15,000 for one person who suffers an injury in an accident.

Rules Pertaining to Filing a Personal Injury Claim

When someone is involved in a car accident, they need to focus on their recovery. Filing a personal injury lawsuit is often a way they can protect their legal rights to file suit. Just because a suit is filed does not always mean a case will go to court. However, filing a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires can help ensure the victim’s rights to take the responsible party to court.

Personal injury claims are civil claims. By law, a civil case need only show that it is more likely than not that the injury was the responsibility of the person whom the case was filed against.  In criminal cases, the burden of proof is much higher.

Personal Injury Claims Can Help Victims Recover Financially

A personal injury claim can help a victim avoid financial devastation. When someone suffers an injury because of a deliberate or negligent act of another person, they have to take time off work to recover from their injuries. This means they will have weeks, or months when their bills are due, and their income is less than they anticipated. In addition, they may be facing mounting medical bills either due to insufficient medical coverage or because of special procedures which may be necessary for them to recover completely from their injury.

Some of the losses which can be claimed in a personal injury claim include:

  • Lost income
  • Medical expenses associated with injury
  • Medical devices required for injury (wheelchairs, crutches, etc.)
  • Home rehabilitation if needed (ramps, handrails, safety features)

Victims of personal injury should not have to be concerned about the financial losses they could suffer because someone else was negligent or careless. Getting reimbursed for the financial harm they have suffered can help them maintain financial stability for their family.

Frequently Asked Questions About Statutes of Limitations

These are questions which victims commonly ask about the statute of limitations:

What happens if a victim does not file a personal injury claim before the statute of limitations expires?

In most cases when someone files a claim after the statute of limitations expires, the court will dismiss the claim. This could result in a victim losing any rights to get compensated for their injury.

Does filing a claim with the court mean a victim has to pursue a lawsuit?

Filing a claim does not mean that a personal injury lawsuit will always occur. In most cases, it is possible to settle a claim without going to court. However, filing a claim does allow a victim additional time to negotiate with the responsible party.

If there are multiple parties responsible for an injury, does a claim have to be filed against all of them at the same time?

Statute of Limitations

No. One way to preserve the right to hold everyone accountable is to file a personal injury claim against one party before the statute of limitations runs out.

Contact the firm today at (504) 500-5000 or at our website to schedule an appointment.