If someone else’s negligence or conduct injures you or someone you love, you may feel unsure where to turn and what to do.
You may have medical bills and be unable to work due to your injury.
You, however, may be able to seek compensation from the responsible party.
While it is normal to be focused on your recovery and not necessarily thinking about filing a lawsuit, it is essential to remember that you do not have an indefinite amount of time to file a claim.
The statute of limitations or clock generally starts ticking when you are injured. You do not want to miss your opportunity and legal right to recovery.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
Before diving into Oklahoma’s statute of limitations for personal injury specifically, you might wonder, What exactly is a statute of limitations?
In short, it is a prescribed timeframe in which an individual must initiate a particular legal action or be barred from doing so in the future.
They exist in both civil and criminal worlds and can vary among cases.
Oklahoma Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Oklahoma’s statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years from the date of injury. However, like most rules, there are exceptions for filing an Oklahoma personal injury lawsuit.
While some exceptions will extend the timeframe for filing, others will significantly shorten the deadline for pursuing your claim. It is essential to understand which filing deadline applies in your situation.
Speaking with a seasoned attorney is your best course of action to ensure you preserve your legal rights.
In Oklahoma, as in many states, the statute of limitations can be tolled until a minor victim turns 18. In other words, the statute of limitations does not begin until the victim becomes a legal adult.
In medical malpractice situations, a minor age 12 or older must file an action within one year of reaching 18 (i.e., age 19) but no less than two years from the injury date.
However, if the child is under 12 at the time of the medical negligence, their parent or guardian must initiate the lawsuit within seven years of the date of injury.
If an accident victim’s injuries cause them to be temporarily mentally incapacitated, the clock does not begin to run until they are deemed legally competent again.
For instance, if a car accident victim is in a coma, they will still be afforded the entire two-year statute of limitations once they recover.
Individuals with Disabilities
Similar to the exception for incapacitated individuals, a victim with a legal disability will have two years after the disability is removed to bring their claim.
If a defendant leaves Oklahoma to avoid a lawsuit, the statute of limitations is tolled until they return to the state.
Incarcerated defendants may have a tolled statute of limitations while behind bars. The court has the discretion to toll the statute of limitations until the defendant is released.
While many exceptions exist to extend the time a victim has to file a lawsuit, if the potential defendant in your case is the government (i.e., the state of Oklahoma), the deadline is much shorter.
Generally, you must notify the government entity within one year of the date of injury.
The government then has 90 days to approve or deny your claim. If they deny your claim, you will only have 180 days to initiate a lawsuit.
The Victim Died From Their Injuries
If the accident victim dies as a result of their injuries, their family or estate can initiate a wrongful death action.
The victim’s loved ones will have two years from the date of the victim’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Why Is There a Statute of Limitations?
Individual states may have their own reasons for imposing specific statutes of limitations. However, generally, the reasons for setting these limitations include:
- Encouraging potential plaintiffs to pursue their cases promptly,
- Protecting potential defendants from indefinite legal exposure,
- Ensuring evidence is fresh and readily available, and
- Preserving witnesses’ availability and recollections of events.
Notably, the court is also interested in promptly ensuring matters move through the court system.
Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney
To learn more about your deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit, call us today for a free consultation.