How Does the Statute of Limitations Affect Your Right to Sue for Accident Injuries?

Most every type of lawsuit is subject to a statute of limitations. Essentially, these laws set a period of time running from the date of an injury until a deadline, after which the right to sue no longer exists. Limitations periods serve the purpose of encouraging people to pursue legal matters promptly. They also remove the specter of a lawsuit hanging indefinitely over a potential defendant’s head.

In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for accident cases is generally two years. The limitations period is the same for most types of accidents, including car accidents, truck wrecks, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, Uber/Lyft accidents, slip-and-falls, construction accidents and boating accidents.

There are some circumstances in which an injured party may have more than two years from the accident to file a lawsuit. Those circumstances involve the following:

  • Injuries to minors — If the injured person was a minor when the injury occurred, the two-year clock does not start running until the minor turns 18.
  • Mental incapacity — If the accident caused the victim to become mentally disabled, a court may extend the time limit until the person recovers.
  • Birth injuries — If a baby is injured during birth, the parents have 13 years to file a lawsuit. If the mother is injured while giving birth, the normal two-year period applies. If either the mother or child dies, the family has two years to file a wrongful death claim.
  • Injuries that manifest themselves later — New Jersey adheres to the discovery rule, which means that the two-year clock starts running only on the date the injury is discovered or should reasonably be discovered. For example, if you get involved in a car crash today but it takes two weeks for you to realize you have an internal injury, then the limitations period begins on the day you discovered you were hurt.

If your injuries were caused by a government employee, special rules apply. The statute of limitations is still two years, but you have only 90 days to file a claim with the appropriate government agency. Then, the government has six months to settle the claim. If they do not settle it within that time period, then you can file your lawsuit.

While two years may seem like a long period of time, you should not hesitate in speaking with a personal injury lawyer to pursue your rights. A lawyer needs ample time to gather the facts and evidence and to do the initial research needed to bring a well-founded lawsuit that can obtain for you the compensation you deserve.

If you have been injured due to the actions of someone else, get help from the experienced personal injury team at Seigel Law in Ridgewood. We offer a free initial consultation where you can discuss your situation with a lawyer. Please call us at 201-444-4000 or contact us online.

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