A statute of limitations is a state law whereby a deadline is set for filing a lawsuit. It is applicable to all types of legal claims, and based on the type of claim the plaintiff wants to file, the statute of limitations may be different for different US states. Determining whether the personal injury case is a valid one is the most important primary step when filing a lawsuit, which makes review of the injured person’s records and medical records services for lawyers very important considerations. The prescribed limit for each state varies – from one year in Kentucky and Tennessee to six years in North Dakota and Maine. If the plaintiff doesn’t file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations, he/she may lose their right to sue. The ultimate objective of having a statute of limitations is that it helps streamline the legal process and avoid bogus lawsuits from being brought to the courts many years after the alleged incident occurred.
What Is the Purpose of the Statute of Limitations?
- Protects the defendants and provides them reasonable repose.
- Urges plaintiffs to pursue their personal injury claims meticulously.
- Enables victims to obtain the best possible form of justice. This is because when the time limit to file a case is short, it is easier to have credible witnesses, supporting evidence and so on.
The time of commencement of the statute may vary based on different time frames – in some states, it may start on the date the alleged injury occurred or was detected. In some other states, the statute of limitations may start at the time a medicine was purchased or a procedure was performed. An attorney can help plaintiffs accurately determine the time of commencement.
Take the case of a woman who underwent a transvaginal mesh surgery to treat pelvic organ prolapse. She started experiencing unusual bleeding or pelvic pain, possibly as an adverse effect of the surgery. In some US states, the statute of limitations starts when the surgery was conducted. In some other states, it starts when the injury was discovered/should have been discovered.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations may be extended on some rare occasions such as the following.
- When children are included as victims in the personal injury case. Many states may allow the person affected to attain the age of majority at eighteen before the statute of limitations begins for the claim.
- In the event of some genuine administrative problems or lack of communication with the defendant side
- Some cases may have aggravated factors, and so the time limit could be increased.
In many US states, under the “discovery rule,” the statute of limitations may not start until the injured party knew or should have known that they were injured. For example, asbestos victims do not experience symptoms of the disease until many years after the initial exposure to materials that contained asbestos. Even when the discovery rule is relevant, there may be a larger deadline beyond which the filing of a lawsuit is prohibited. A state may set a deadline of two years after the injured person discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the defendant is responsible for his or her injury, or four years after the event that caused the injury, whichever is later.
Many states have a statute of limitations exclusively for medical malpractice cases. Other states have unique statute of limitations for civil lawsuits over sexual assault, such as Connecticut where civil claims for harm caused by childhood sexual abuse can be filed until 30 years after the victim reaches adulthood. Another instance when the statute of limitations could be extended is if the injured person become mentally impaired. Also, it could be extended if the defendant left the state after committing the negligence.
Medical Record Review an Important Consideration
In cases where the injuries are significant, the insurance company may perform a chart review to ensure that the coverage can be provided. In cases where the insurer refuses to settle, the statute of limitations deadline is crucial. Abiding by the statute of limitations helps ensure that the victim’s legal options are protected. Plaintiffs can benefit from professional legal representation because the counsel can clearly present any specific special rule that may be applicable to the judge, and also help in pursuing the best compensation possible.
Attorneys handling personal injury cases find the support of a company providing medical review solutions very useful. This is because with the medical case summaries the company provides, attorneys can determine whether the injury has actually caused the alleged harm, is worthy of insurance coverage, and whether it is worthwhile pursuing the case.
Our medical record review team at MOS has extensive experience assisting personal injury attorneys with medical records services. To capitalize on our dedicated solutions, contact us at (800) 670 2809.
Disclaimer: The content in this blog is for informative purposes only and should not be construed as professional legal opinion. It has been sourced from reliable internet and other resources, and is not the premise or opinion of MOS (Managed Outsource Solutions) or any of its stakeholders. For a professional opinion, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.