Statutes of limitations set the length of time that a person or a state has to file a claim following another’s wrongful act. In other words, you do not have an unlimited amount of time to initiate legal action. Take note that nursing home abuse cases do not have a distinct statute of limitations, according to Annals of Emergency Medicine. The timeframe to file a suit for nursing home injuries is the same as that for personal injury cases.
Statutory periods vary with each state, and they range from one year to six years from the date or the discovery of an injury. Most states give plaintiffs two to three years to file a claim, but in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee, you have only a year to sue the defendant. Meanwhile, Maine and North Dakota have the longest limitation period, which is six years. Regardless of the statute of limitations in your state, it is crucial to act quickly because there are several steps you need to take before filing a lawsuit. Also, exceptions may apply to your case wherein the time frame becomes shorter than expected.
What Happens When the Deadline Passes
The statute of limitations is one of the most critical aspects in your case you should be aware of because it can mean the difference between successfully filing your claim and losing the right to pursue legal reparation forever. Unless exceptions apply to you, missing the deadline means the nursing home will likely file a motion to dismiss your case because the statutory period expired.
One of the best ways to ensure that the statute of limitations does not run out is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will also be able to advise you on whether you have relevant exceptions for your claim. It takes time to prepare a nursing home abuse lawsuit, and you would benefit from working with a professional who can help you submit a valid claim on time. Filing near the deadline may result in a disorganized case that can negatively impact the outcome.
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Exceptions to the Statutes of Limitations
Although it is not common to find exceptions in the statutes of limitations for nursing home abuse cases, the following can affect filing deadlines.
- The nursing home concealed the injury or the facts surrounding the abuse.
- The victim suffered physical or mental incapacity after the abuse.
- Fraud or deception prevented the plaintiff from filing a claim.
- The injury manifested at a later time.
- A government entity owns the nursing home.
- There is a provision in the admission paperwork that shortens the time to file a claim.
While the majority of the exceptions will result in the extension of the deadline, a few will reduce the statutory period, most notably when the nursing home is government-run. In some states, like Indiana, you have less time after the date of the incident to sue for a financial award. It would be wise to speak to an attorney at the earliest opportunity regarding possible exceptions that may apply to you.
What You Should Do if the Statute of Limitations Expires
Even if you believe the statute of limitations has already expired in your case, do not let that stop you from getting in touch with a lawyer. No matter how much research you do, it is not a substitute for advice from a legal expert. Exceptions may still apply in your situation after a thorough analysis of the details. Besides, a lawyer can guide you regarding the legal steps you should take, regardless of whether or not you missed the deadline. Personal injury attorneys mostly work on a contingency basis, so this should not stop you from talking to one.
Why There Are Statutes of Limitations
The law prescribes a time limit for suing a defendant because the longer it takes for a plaintiff to file a claim, the more difficult it is to achieve a fair outcome. The statutes of limitations are what courts think would be a reasonable time for parties to defend themselves or seek compensation. Defendants would be at an unfair disadvantage of disproving a claim when evidence disappears, and witnesses have difficulty recalling details accurately. This can also adversely affect plaintiffs because they can lose access to evidence that will aid them in building a strong case.
On the other hand, it would be unfavorable for plaintiffs if the law does not allow them enough time to discover the abuse and gather facts that they can use to remedy their situation. Nevertheless, statutes of limitations encourage injured parties to pursue legal action promptly after suffering injuries.
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Do Not Delay in Seeking Legal Representation
Discovering early what the statutes of limitations are in a nursing home abuse case is one of the best ways to make sure you get to file a valid claim. Together with legal guidance from one of our dedicated lawyers at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, you will be able to understand your legal rights and decide on the most effective course of action.
Do not hesitate to contact us at 800-959-1444 today to discuss your case with a member of our legal team.