Can I get justice for an injury I got 10 years ago?

If you have been injured from the unintentional or intentional actions of another person you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including payment for medical bills, pain and suffering, and wage loss. To receive compensation, however, you must file your personal injury claim within the statute of limitations for your state.

Recently on our forum we had a user ask, "Can I get justice for an injury I received 10 years ago?" Unfortunately, the answer is generally no.

Statute of limitations for a personal injury

Each state has a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. State laws vary, but most states allow two to six years to file a claim. For instance, the state of Florida allows an injured party four years to file a personal injury claim. Georgia allows a claimant two years to file a personal injury claim. If you do not file your personal injury claim prior to the statute of limitations you forfeit your right to compensation.

Exceptions to the statute of limitations

Like most areas of law, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. For instance, if the statute of limitations in your state is two years from the date of the event which gave rise to the injury there are some cases where the statute of limitations may be "tolled." For example, in some states, if the injured party is not an adult at the time of the injury the statute of limitations will not start "running" until they become an adult.

In other cases, such as fraud, the statute of limitations may also be tolled if the wrongdoer hides information from the injured party which prevents them from discovering the fraud. Additionally, the statute of limitations may also be tolled in medical malpractice cases where the injured party's injuries could not have been reasonably discovered at the time the medical service was performed. This might happen, for example, if a surgeon left an instrument inside a patient which was not discovered until several years later.

Generally, however, if you have been injured, your state's statute of limitations will apply. Different types of civil claims will also have different statutes of limitations. For instance, injury cases, contract cases, property damage, and fraud cases will all have different statutes of limitations which vary by state.

What do I do if I am injured?

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person it's imperative that you seek proper medical treatment and talk to an injury lawyer. If you do not want to hire a lawyer you can gather your own information about the case (medical bills, witness testimony, property damage costs, lost wage information and pain and suffering costs) and present this to either the insurance company for a settlement (i.e. for a car accident case) or as part of your personal injury lawsuit which you have filed in court against the defendant.

In most cases, if you have been injured on another person's property or in a car accident you will be negotiating a settlement with an insurance company. In some cases, however, you may choose not to settle which means you will have to file your case in court.

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