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How to Handle Personal Injury Statute of Limitations During COVID-19

Dealing With Personal Injury Case Statute of Limitations During COVID-19

In some ways, it feels like the world has stopped since the pandemic has forced several companies, organizations and government agencies to partially, if not completely, shut down. This has thrown some legal matters, such as personal injury case statute of limitations, into unknown territory. The good news is that you can work your way through the red tape with the help of a legal professional.

Why the Time Limitations Are So Important

These legal limitations were set to help defendants in legal cases. The rule designates a time limit. After a certain period of time, a plaintiff can no longer pursue charges against a defendant. The time limit varies depending on the alleged crime. Limitations are different in civil and criminal cases as well. Exceptions are made for plaintiffs who have mental health disorders, for example. Generally, though, these limitations are strict. Understanding the time limitations for your case is important because if you plan to file a suit against the defendant, you cannot miss the deadline. If you have a real case in your favor, and you miss the deadline, your case will be dismissed almost immediately. In complicated legal cases, the date of the incident is one of the first things the defendant's legal representation determines. It is a lawyer’s job to defend his or her client, so if an attorney can get the case dismissed on a technicality or a missed deadline, he or she will aim to do so.

Time Limitations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Several regions, cities and segments of the economy have been shut down or put into lockdown due to the number of people testing positive for the virus. Government agencies at all levels have not been an exception. Courts have also been forced to shut down even though they have pending cases scheduled on the docket. As these shutdowns and lockdowns are occurring, however, the clock is still ticking in important cases for some individuals. Some of the most affected regions of the country had reopened but were forced to scale back due to a spike in new positive cases. So the public has had to backtrack and wait again. If your personal injury case has a ticking clock, you are encouraged to speak with an Allentown personal injury attorney as soon as possible. This is especially important if the deadline is drawing near. Since no one really knows when the country will return to what used to be normal, you cannot take a chance if you are the plaintiff. Even though the country is experiencing a public health crisis, no one truly knows how things are going to pan out. Government officials are at the mercy of data and projections that continually change on a daily basis. Decisions, therefore, cannot be made with certainty due to the changing landscape. If you have not spoken with an attorney, you should still keep track of your case's time limit. Do not risk losing your right to file a case due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why Tolling Is Important During the Pandemic

Some states have taken action to help plaintiffs who had legal matters pending with time limitations. The process is known as tolling. Legal time limits were set to help the defendant. A plaintiff receives the right to request that the statute be tolled. In extraordinary circumstances, the ticking clock can be stopped. It does not stop forever, though, but it does stop until another legal event takes place. To toll the statute of time limit allows the plaintiff to extend the time that enables him or her to file a suit. Legal disability is a circumstance that allows for a statute to be tolled. An individual who is not of legal age but is involved in a case is another circumstance when a toll of the time statute might be allowed. It must be understood that ignorance of time limits does not qualify for a toll of the statute. This is one reason why when individuals are involved in a car accident, they are required to call law enforcement. Law enforcement takes the report that all parties involved in the accident receive. This also officially starts the clock. No one can claim ignorance of the law because their next step, which is usually to contact the insurance company, is outlined by law enforcement. From there, the insurance company adds its guidelines. If an Allentown personal injury attorney should be contacted, you are advised of that right too.

Common Cases That Have Time Limitations

Regardless of whether you are the plaintiff or defendant, laws are designed to be as fair as possible for all parties so that a fair trial or judgment can take place. Each type of case has its own set of time limitations. This protects the individual who is being accused. Living under the constant threat of a legal trial that does not take place right away is extremely difficult. Common cases that include time limitations involve:
  • Debt
  • Breach of contract
  • Medical malpractice
  • Libel or slander
  • Domestic violence
  • Fraud
  • Misrepresentation
  • Property damage
The time limit also depends on where the incident occurred. You need to figure out if your potential case is civil or criminal. Then you need to understand the time limit for your case as set by the state where the incident took place. A legal professional can help you determine if the case falls under state or federal jurisdiction. As you are completing your due diligence, the clock is already ticking. This is not a time to procrastinate. During the pandemic, it is especially important to keep things moving forward. Time is not on your side. Neither is the potential for delays due to courts being closed or related agencies working with less staff and shortened hours.

Time Limitations and Personal Injury Cases

If your case is personal-injury-related, the clock starts ticking on the day you were injured. The time limit may be as short as one year to as long as six years depending on the state where the incident occurred. Personal injury cases have a one-time limit exception. It is known as the discovery rule. Some individuals who are in a car accident, for example, do not show signs of injury right away. Then there are cases where an incident occurs, but it is not evident at the time that the actions of the future defendant truly caused the injury. Individuals who developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure are a group that has fallen into the discovery rule category. Courts have allowed them to file suits up to decades after the exposure because their condition took so long to develop and diagnose. To find out more information about personal injury cases and statutes of limitation during the current public health pandemic, contact the team at Metzger & Kleiner in Pennsylvania by phone at (610) 435-7400 or (215) 567-6616 or fill out the online form.

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