Statute of Limitations Explained
A statute of limitations (SOL) refers to a period of time in which you can legally file a claim. From a legal perspective, there are two types of SOLs: civil and criminal. In the case of birth injury lawsuits, your claim is considered civil. This means that a specific statute of limitations will be applicable.
The time frame is challenging in birth injury claims. This is because some injuries are apparent straight after birth, while others can take years to show. Usually, exceptions are in place to ensure that the parents of children who develop latent birth injury symptoms can file a lawsuit against the medical professional at a later date after the injury is known.
The SOL time frame and related rules are determined per state. Therefore, it is best to check with your attorney to ensure that you are within the allowed time frame. The allotted time can be anywhere between 1 to 5 years from the initial injury.
The quicker you present your claim to an experienced lawyer, the better chance you have of successfully filing your claim. If you fail to present your claim to a lawyer quickly enough, your attorney may not be able to proceed with your complaint.
When Do Statutes of Limitations Begin?
A statute of limitations is in place to ensure that the legal process is efficient and the case is fresh in the mind of the plaintiff, defendant and witnesses. Usually, the clock on the SOL begins when the injuries are first discovered. If this is the day of birth, for example, then you know your specific time period to file your claim.
Sometimes parents discover their child’s injury later on. If this happens and the injury can be traced back to medical negligence, the ‘discovery rule’ comes into play. This means that the SOL begins at the time that the injury was discovered, not at the time it happened. This buys parents more time to get a case together with an experienced birth injury lawyer.
Not all states follow the discovery rule, so be sure to ask your attorney for more information.
Statutes of Limitations by State
Each state has its own procedure for civil suits, including medical malpractice or birth injury cases. It is essential for parents and families to be aware of their own state’s SOL so they know how to successfully file their claim on time.
Working with a lawyer experienced in medical malpractice cases can ensure that your complaint is filed correctly and within the exact time frame. Across the U.S., time frames vary from 1 to 5 years. This discrepancy means it is crucial to pay attention to the SOL in your state. A competent attorney will know to act as fast as possible based on your state’s rules.
Some states have a shorter statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases due to the number of claims they receive in the state per year. States with a lesser population will often have more time to file their claim as lawsuits are few and far between.
Check the statute of limitations for your state here:
|District of Columbia||3 years|
|Maryland||3 yrs/5 yrs|
|New Hampshire||2 years|
|New Jersey||2 years|
|New Mexico||3 years|
|New York||2.5 years|
|North Carolina||3 years|
|North Dakota||2 years|
|Rhode Island||3 years|
|South Carolina||3 years|
|South Dakota||2 years|
|Tennessee||1 yr/3 yrs|
|West Virginia||2 years|
Filing Birth Injury Claims Within the Statute of Limitations
It is important to file a claim before your state’s SOL expires. As soon as you realize that your child has a birth injury due to medical malpractice, seek the advice of an experienced lawyer to get the ball rolling. It may seem like a drastic measure. However, if the doctor or medical professional could be putting other children at risk, it is essential to act as soon as you can.
If you present a claim to a lawyer that is too close to the statute of limitations’ expiry, it may reduce the likelihood that a lawyer will be able to take on your case.
Going through a birth injury law firm will quicken your case, as experienced lawyers have the resources and knowledge of the legal procedures that apply to your situation.
Seeking Legal Compensation for Birth Injuries
Seeking legal advice after a birth injury may be the last thing on your mind. Due to the time limit set out by your state’s statute of limitations, it is essential to find a law firm to help as soon as possible.
Contact an attorney with experience in medical malpractice and birth injury cases. Call the Birth Injury Justice Center today at 800-914-1562 to have your case reviewed for free.