The statute of limitations determines how much time you have to file a personal injury case. For example, if the statute of limitations is two years, you won't be able to file your case in the third year or later. However, a few exceptions allow you to extend the statute of limitations. Here are a few ways you may extend the statute of limitations.
Use the Discovery Rule
In many personal injury cases, the counting for the statute of limitations starts from the date of injury. With the discovery rule, however, the counting starts from the date the victim discovered or should have discovered their injury. The discovery rule applies to injuries that are not so obvious.
For example, you might not know that you have cancer after working with carcinogens. Cancer might even not develop until years after exposure to the carcinogens. In such a case, the statute of limitations might begin from the day you discovered or should have discovered cancer.
Use Your Age
The conventional counting for the statute of limitations applies to adults. However, child victims have until their 18th year until the clock starts the countdown for the statute of limitations. Thus, you may be able to extend the statute of limitations by proving that you were a minor on the day of the injury.
Just like children, the law does not expect incapacitated injury victims to file lawsuits. Thus, for incapacitated victims, the countdown for the statute of limitations starts from the day the incapacitation ends. For example, if you went into a coma after an injury, the statute of limitations will begin from the day you wake up from your coma.
Prove Missing Defendant
You may also have some luck with your case if you can prove that the defendant was missing. You need to prove that you took reasonable steps, such as the involvement of the authorities, to find the defendant. Say a motorist hits you and then goes into hiding in another state. If the driver returns two years later and you finally locate them, then that is when the statute of limitations countdown will start.
As you can see, you shouldn't abandon your injury case just because you think the statute of limitations has expired. Get a lawyer to assess your case and determine if it falls under any exception. Don't forget, however, that the exceptions vary by state and can also change with time.
To learn more, contact a resource like Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham, LLC.