There are deadlines for filing nearly every type of civil claim. This time limit is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” If you do not file your lawsuit before the deadline has passed, you will not be allowed to bring that lawsuit. If you still file your legal claim after the deadline, it will likely be dismissed. Each statute of limitations period depends on the type of legal claim you are bringing and the state law applicable to that claim. Your attorney will make sure you meet the statute of limitations period that applies to your car accident injury claim if you bring the case to them in time.
The Purpose of the Statute of Limitations
The primary purpose of the statute of limitations is a practical one. The evidence that will either support or discredit your legal claims will likely be destroyed over time, just as the memories of relevant witnesses will be less accurate. In accident cases, for example, the scene is most often altered over time. Business records are usually destroyed in the normal course of business. In order to preserve evidence, it is important to bring your car accident injury claim as soon as possible.
“Tolling” of the Statute of Limitations
Many jurisdictions “toll” or suspend the limitation period in special situations. For instance, if the injured party is a minor or if bankruptcy proceedings are involved. In those situations, the running of the limitations period is paused or tolled until the special situation ends. Equitable tolling can be applied for individuals who were intimated into not bringing the claim or who relied upon a promise that the period would be suspended. In those case, it would be unfair or inequitable not to toll the period.
What Is the Discovery Rule?
The discovery rule also tolls or suspends the statute of limitations until an injury is or should have been discovered, depending on the situation. The way the discovery rule works is that it effectively changes when the statute of limitations begins to run. The discovery rule is most often applied in medical malpractice and wrongful death cases. In those types of cases, the cause of the injury or death is not always apparent when it first occurs, due to the nature of the injury itself. So, the statute of limitations period doesn’t start until the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. Not every state applies the discovery rule the same way, depending on the injury and other circumstances.
The Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident Injury Claim
In Arkansas, most claims must be filed within three years of the injury. This includes a personal injury or car accident injury claim. Arkansas recognizes the “discovery” exception for situations where you could not have discovered your injury until some later time. This doesn’t usually apply to a car accident injury claim unless a specific injury is not discovered until years later, which is not very common. In Missouri, plaintiffs have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury or a car accident injury claim. The discovery statute can also apply in Missouri, for a maximum of 10 years from the date of injury.
Deadlines for Filing Wrongful Death Claims
Like all other legal claims, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which differs from state to state. This deadline or time limit is commonly referred to as the “statute of limitations.” In both Missouri and Arkansas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is three (3) years. A car accident injury claim can involve wrongful death claims if someone involved in the accident dies as a result of their injuries.
Claims Against the Government
Arkansas has different rules when a claim is brought against a government entity. In those cases, the statute of limitations period is five (5) years. Likewise, in Missouri, an injury claim against a state entity must be filed with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division, within 90 days of the injury. It is wise to seek the assistance of a car accident attorney if you have a claim against a government entity.
If you have questions regarding the statute of limitations, a car accident injury claim, or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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