How long do you have to sue for personal injury?
November 3, 2021 / Personal Injury
The statute of limitations on personal injury cases is two years in Indiana. This means an accident victim has just 24 months to file a lawsuit after being injured. The clock starts from the date of the accident or injury, with just a few exceptions. If you miss this window of opportunity, you risk having your case dismissed.
Many people who have suffered an injury – whether slip & fall, car crash, or workplace – often ask the question, “how long do you have to sue for personal injury?” They are sometimes surprised by the answer. The time to file is relatively short. What this points out is the importance of contacting a personal injury lawyer right away if you’ve been injured in an accident. Don’t wait!
The two-year statute of limitations applies to many kinds of injuries including:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slip & falls
- Burn injuries
- Workplace injuries
- Wrongful death
Does the type of injury affect how much time to bring a personal injury lawsuit?
Generally, the type of injury does not affect how much time you have to bring a personal injury lawsuit. Whether it’s a concussion or broken bones or a back injury, you still have just two years to file a legal claim. There are a few exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations (explained below), but they do not relate to the type of injury. Rather, they relate to other issues.
Types of injuries that can result in a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Brain injuries
- Concussions and TBI
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Cuts and lacerations
Regardless of the type of your injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation. This is especially true if your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence or by a defective product.
What if pain and symptoms don’t show up for a few weeks or months? Then how long do you have to sue for an injury?
The Indiana personal injury statute of limitations is codified at Indiana Code section 34-11-2-4.
There are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations. The “discovery rule” says that when a victim is not immediately aware of their injury (for example, headaches or internal pain don’t present for many weeks), the clock on the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until the accident victim discovers, or should have discovered, that they’ve been injured. The statute of limitations can also be delayed or paused (sometimes referred to as “tolled”) for victims who are mentally impaired or minors. Additionally, the statute of limitations clock can be delayed if the defendant in a lawsuit leaves the state or takes steps to conceal their liability from the plaintiff.
If more than two years have passed since your accident or the event in question but you only discovered your injuries months later, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. The best way to determine this is to speak to a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer.
How do you prove negligence in personal injury cases?
There are certain elements that a plaintiff must prove to establish “negligence” in a personal injury lawsuit. Your attorney must prove the following four elements:
In a personal injury case, “negligence” refers to one party’s reckless or careless behavior that resulted in harm to the other person. That means the careless person is legally liable for the injuries suffered by the other party.
The defendant owes the plaintiff a legal “duty of care,” which means, for example, that a store owner must keep the floor dry and decluttered, or another driver must not drive drunk. Duty is a legal obligation.
A plaintiff must show that the defendant breached this duty by doing, or failing to do, something that a reasonably prudent person would have done in a similar situation.
It’s not enough for a defendant to be acting negligently, but you must show that their negligence caused the accident that resulted in your injury.
Damages means that a plaintiff suffered damages – medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering – and there’s a way to compensate a plaintiff with money for their injuries.
What should I do after I’ve been injured?
If you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s important that you do the following things:
- Seek medical attention right away. It’s so important to go to the hospital emergency room or see your family doctor after an accident to receive treatment. This not only ensures that you won’t suffer further injury, but it also creates documentation of your injuries, which you may rely on in your lawsuit.
- Call police to respond to the scene. It’s important to have police respond to the scene and file a police report, which will be important to your case.
- Get names and contact info of witnesses. If you are able, get the contact info of eyewitnesses and bystanders who saw or heard the accident.
- Take pictures of your injuries and the accident scene. Use your camera on your cell phone to take pictures of bruises, lacerations, and other injuries. Also take pictures of your surroundings including cluttered aisles, a hazardous roadway, or other accident scene characteristics.
- Answer questions briefly and succinctly. You want to cooperate and answer questions from police but be brief and do not try to explain yourself in great detail. Above all, do not say that the accident was your fault.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer right away. The best way to protect your interests after you’ve been injured in an accident is to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you.
Contact an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer today
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. This is especially true if the accident was due to someone else’s negligence. But you must act quickly. In most cases, you have only two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. The skilled attorneys at Stephenson Rife Law Firm have helped countless accident victims achieve financial settlements and jury awards. To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free consultation at (317) 680-2501.