What Is the Statute of Limitations in a Personal Injury Case?
If you have suffered injury at the hands of another, you are probably entitled to some sort of monetary relief. A personal injury attorney can help you get it, but once you’ve decided to file a suit, you’ll need to do so in a timely fashion. If you wait too long to act, Nevada’s statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits could close the door on your chances.
What the Statute Has to Do With It
Nevada is not the only state to restrict the period during which a person can institute a personal injury lawsuit. All states impose such deadlines, and most of them tend to be quite strict. In the majority of personal injury suits, the clock starts running on the date that you suffer the injury, and in the state of Nevada, it will normally stop two years to the day after that. If you haven’t filed your lawsuit before the time is up, the courts are almost certain to dismiss it out of hand.
The Discovery Rule
Despite the statute’s restrictive nature, the state of Nevada does recognize certain exceptions. There are situations in which you may not immediately realize that you have suffered an injury. In other cases, you may be very well aware that your problems arose in response to a particular incident but remain uncertain of the person or entity responsible. At times like these, the discovery rule provides a chance to extend your filing deadline.
Injuries caused by exposure to carcinogens are one example of this type of circumstance. A person can conceivably have resided in an older home for years blissfully ignorant of the fact that the crumbly substance surrounding his pipes was actually asbestos. If his doctor later confirms a diagnosis of substance-related mesothelioma, the statute of limitations would start on the day that the patient actually receives the unfortunate news and learns of his condition’s probable cause. Although the discovery rule does permit delayed filing of a personal injury suit, the allowable period can sometimes vary in length. The assistance of a personal injury attorney can ensure that you do not miss the deadline.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
Once the clock begins to run on the statute of limitations, circumstances can sometimes serve to stop it temporarily. Known as tolling, this cessation can occur for a variety of reasons, the more common of which include:
- The defendant’s temporary absence from the state. If it should prove verifiable, such a circumstance could stop the clock for as long as it takes him to return.
- The age of the plaintiff. If the injured party should happen to be underage at the time of the causative incident, the statute of limitations will not begin until the day that he turns eighteen.
- The plaintiff’s mental state at the time of injury. Some forms of intellectual incompetence or impairment could render a victim incapable of realizing the connection between his injuries and the incident that caused them. The clock may toll until he becomes sufficiently aware.
- Financial difficulty or imprisonment on the part of the defendant. If monetary troubles have forced the supposedly accountable individual into bankruptcy, the courts may extend the filing deadline until his situation has improved. If he happens to be serving time in jail, the clock will either start or resume upon his release.
What Constitutes a Personal Injury
Although many different types of incidents can result in personal injury, some do so with greater frequency. Those that lead most often to litigation include:
- Automobile accidents. When these result from a failure to follow the rules of the road, the party at fault is financially responsible.
- Medical malpractice. These complex cases arise in response to neglect or incompetence on the part of a health care professional.
- Dog bites. In almost every case, a dog’s owners are financially responsible for any injuries it may cause.
- Slip and fall. Property owners must by law keep their premises hazard-free.
- Defamation of character. Libelous and slanderous untruths cause personal injury by harming the victim’s reputation.
- Assault, battery and similar intentional acts. Despite the criminal nature of such deliberate deeds, the victim can still file a personal injury suit against the perpetrator.
Your Legal Rights
Although the statute of limitations insists that anyone bringing a personal injury suit must do so within a specified frame of time, calculating the exact cutoff date can be tricky. An experienced personal injury attorney who understands the various factors and exceptions that might come into play will see to it that you don’t miss the critical deadline. For a professional evaluation of your own particular case, speak to the expert attorneys at Weiner Law Group. Call us at 702-202-0500 or fill out our contact form.