When Should You Sue for Personal Injury?
Most personal injury claims occur because of the negligence of someone else, who can be held responsible for the injuries and damages they caused. Damages include the costs of medical treatment, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, mental anguish, pain, and suffering. While the negligent person who caused the personal injury (or their insurance company) may try to settle your claim for damages, if they don’t or don’t reasonably offer to do so, you must sue to obtain the compensation you deserve.
How Personal Injury Settlements Work
Most personal injury claims settle before they ever go to court. Though an insurance company tries to pay as little as possible to settle, when they know that going to court is likely, they usually pay a fair sum to avoid the risk that a court could order them to pay more. If you are represented by an experienced personal injury lawyer, then the insurance company understands that the lawyer knows what a reasonable settlement is and can take the case to trial if necessary. An experienced personal injury attorney will also know when to file a lawsuit.
How Long Do I Have to Sue for Personal Injury?
The law establishes deadlines for filing lawsuits for personal injury. These deadlines are called statutes of limitation because they are usually established by statutes and limit the time in which a lawsuit must be filed. Statutes of limitation are generally calculated from when the event giving rise to the cause of action occurred. For personal injury claims due to negligence, the deadline is generally two years from the event which caused the injuries. For example, if you are injured in a car wreck, then you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the person who caused the wreck and your injuries. With very limited exceptions, these deadlines are hard. If a lawsuit is not filed by the deadline, it will be dismissed.
There are other deadlines which can apply to lawsuits arising from personal injury.
For example, if the injuries are caused by the negligence of a city, county, or state, there are certain procedures that must be followed before or instead of filing a lawsuit. Many of those procedures have a much shorter deadline.
For example, if you file a claim against your own insurance company for its failure to pay a claim under uninsured or under insured motorist coverage, this has a different deadline.
Personal injury claims that arise from medical procedures, toxic exposures, and product liability can also have different deadlines.