Statutes of limitations set the length of time a person or a state has to file a claim following another person’s wrongful act. In other words, you do not have an unlimited amount of time to initiate legal action.
The statutes of limitations for nursing home abuse cases vary with each state. These timelines usually range from one year to six years from the discovery of an injury. Most states give plaintiffs two to three years to file a claim, but you have only a year to sue the defendant in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Meanwhile, Maine and North Dakota have the longest limitation period of six years.
Regardless of the statute of limitations in your state, you must 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. The timeline can mean the difference between successfully filing your claim and losing the right to pursue legal justice 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 your attorney’s office as soon as possible. Your attorney will also be able to tell you 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 harms the outcome.
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Exceptions to the Statutes of Limitations
Although it is uncommon 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.
- The admission paperwork has a provision that shortens the time to file a claim.
While most 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 to sue for a financial award after the incident date. Speaking with your attorney at the earliest opportunity could help you uncover possible exceptions that might 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’s team. 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-fee basis, so this should not stop you from talking to a law firm.
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 courts think a statute of limitations would be a reasonable period for parties to defend themselves or seek compensation.
Witnesses have difficulty recalling details accurately as time goes on. This can also adversely affect plaintiffs because they can lose access to evidence that will aid them in building a strong case.
It would be unfavorable for plaintiffs if the law did not allow them enough time to discover the abuse and gather facts to remedy their situation. The statutes of limitations encourage injured parties to pursue legal action promptly after suffering injuries.
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Other Frequently Asked Questions in Nursing Home Abuse Cases
Dealing with legal concerns on top of caring for your loved one can be overwhelming. You may want to get help from your lawyer to sort through the legal challenges of your case.
For now, consider these answers to common questions in nursing home abuse cases:
How Do I Know If I Have Grounds for a Nursing Home Abuse Case?
Essentially, you could have a valid case if you can show that the nursing home violated their duty of care for your loved one, and they were harmed as a result. You’ll need to show that the nursing home was negligent in legal terms.
This is something that your lawyer can help you demonstrate, as you will need to show evidence of the injury or harm your loved one faced. Your lawyer can help you gather evidence from various sources, such as through:
- Your loved one’s medical records
- Statements from a doctor
- Photos of your loved one’s injuries
- Statements from witnesses
- Records of past violations by the nursing home
If you’re unsure whether or not you may have a case, the best thing you can do is contact your injury lawyer’s team. They can tell you more about your legal options during a case review.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), there are several types of nursing home abuse, including physical, financial, emotional, and sexual abuse. Your loved one may be facing one or more of these types of abuse. Signs of abuse include:
- Mood changes, including depression or social withdrawal
- Disheveled or unhygienic appearance
- Inexplicable bruises
- Extended hospitalizations
- The passing of your loved one
Your loved one could be showing other signs of abuse. For instance, if they faced direct physical harm, they could have sprained a wrist or fractured a bone during a fall.
Neglect refers to less direct forms of harm to an elder, such as failing to assist with a nursing home resident’s meals. Neglect can also lead to serious harm, such as dehydration, malnutrition causing weight loss, and other health concerns. Changes in mood, health, or appearance can signal neglect.
How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse?
Reporting nursing home abuse may be done through multiple methods. If you hire a lawyer, they can assist you with making this report. If you want to make a report yourself, you could:
- Contact the state authority for elder protection, such as a long-term care ombudsman
- Call 9-1-1 if an elder is in immediate danger
- Notify the nursing home administration of the abuse
If your loved one is in a Medicare- or Medicaid-funded facility, information about reporting abuse should also be posted in the facility.
How Can My Lawyer Help Me With My Case?
Your lawyer can assist you with the entire legal process. A nursing home abuse case can be especially emotionally challenging for families.
- Guide you through your questions and concerns
- Gather crucial evidence to demonstrate liability and your loved one’s harm
- Handle communications with all third parties
- Negotiate and out-of-court settlement
- Take your case to trial, if necessary
- Protect your loved one’s rights
- Help you make important legal decisions
If you work with an elder abuse lawyer, they will use their resources and experience to hold the negligent nursing home accountable.
Do Not Delay in Seeking Legal Representation
Discovering early what the statute of limitations is in your nursing home abuse case is one of the best ways to make sure you get to file a valid claim. Guidance from one of our lawyers at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, will help you understand your legal rights and decide on the most effective course of action.
Do not hesitate to contact us at (800) 712-9119 today to discuss your case with a member of our legal team.