A statute of limitations places a threshold on the amount of time a personal injury victim has in which to file a lawsuit in the civil court system once an accident occurs. If plaintiffs fail to file a claim within the set period of time, they will likely lose their legal standing to take action seeking compensation for the undue medical expenses, wage loss from missed work and emotional pain and suffering that resulted from their injuries.
When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, every state has its own statute of limitations. In New Jersey, the limit is two years from the date of the injury if the person filing the lawsuit is an adult. If the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations begins after his or her 18th birthday.
Not all types of personal injury cases in New Jersey have a two-year window for taking legal action, however. Other time limits may apply depending on the type of injury and the circumstances of the accident. Some of these time limits are shorter, while others are significantly longer. Consider the following:
- Lawsuits related to defamation, slander, libel or intentional torts have a limit of only one year.
- Injury to personal property has a much longer time limit of six years.
- Civil cases of fraud also have a six-year statute of limitations.
Medical and other professional malpractice lawsuits sometimes have statutes of limitations that are more difficult to define. In the medical world, this is primarily due to the difficulty sometimes associated with the dates that conditions “should have been” discovered by a medical professional.
Additionally, some personal injuries, such as illnesses caused by exposure to dangerous materials, may not show signs for many years afterward. In these situations, the two-year period under the statute of limitations begins once symptoms first become apparent.
Personal injury claims can be complex, and the worst mistake to make is to wait so long to take legal action that the statute of limitations has expired. Consult a Bergen County, NJ attorney as soon as possible after suffering undue injury to avoid losing your right to fair compensation for damages.