Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Massachusetts Injury Cases
When someone suffers an injury in an accident, there is a time limit on how long they have to file a claim. This is more commonly known as a statute of limitations. The premise behind these rules are to avoid having someone at-fault having the potential for a lawsuit hanging over their head.
There are exceptions to these statutes, such as an unidentified driver who may be at fault. This type of exception may have been pertinent in a case involving a recent accident which occurred in Acton, Massachusetts. In this accident, a driver allegedly struck a young man and left the scene of the accident leaving police, parents, and the victim without knowing who the driver was.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
These laws explain how long someone has to file a legal challenge against someone who has caused them to be injured. There are some reasons why these limits are put in place including:
- Evidence loss — in some cases, evidence of wrongdoing can be lost. Examples of this may include video evidence of an accident which may be overwritten, misplaced, or damaged.
- Witness statements — the longer it takes to gather information demonstrating fault, any witness to an accident may not have a clear memory of the accident. Witness statements are often key to helping develop a chain of events.
- Fairness to parties involved — there is also a sense that someone who is liable for the injuries suffered in an accident should not have the threat of legal action hanging over their head indefinitely.
Every accident victim has the right to recover the financial losses they suffered when they are injured through no fault of their own. However, the timely filing of a claim is a law that must be followed.
Time Limits for Filing an Injury Claim in Massachusetts
When a victim fails to file an injury claim within the statute of limitations, they may lose the right to be compensated for their injury and any damage they have suffered because of someone else’s negligence.
In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years. This means someone who has suffered an injury must file their claim within three years of an accident. Should a government agency be partially liable for a victim’s injury, the time frame is less. In these cases, the victim has only two years to file a claim.
There is also a little known law that restricts a victims rights when the owner of a ski resort is at fault for their injury. Victims have 90 days from the date of the incident to notify the ski area operator of the injury by registered mail with details. Failure to do so could prohibit the victim from filing a claim.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Massachusetts offers victims several ways to avoid time running out on filing a claim. Should any of these conditions exist, the statute of limitations may be on hold. The exceptions include:
- Victim was a minor — parents may file a personal injury claim on behalf of their child. However, this is not a requirement. Should the parent choose to do so, the statute of limitations would allow the minor to file a claim when they turn 18.
- Victim’s mental capacity — should a victim suffer mental incapacity, the statute of limitations may be waived until such time as they regain capacity. This can occur when someone suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as the result of a car accident or assault.
- Discovery of injury — not all injuries are immediately discovered. If an injury is not immediately known, the victim has three years from the date of the discovery of the injury to file a claim.
- Person causing injury is not known — provided an accident victim reports an accident in a timely manner to law enforcement, if the person is unknown they have six months from the time the identity is known to file a suit, even if the statute of limitations has passed.
It is important to keep in mind that these exceptions may be different depending on the specific circumstances of a case. Victims of any type of personal injury should consult with an experienced attorney with any questions.
Working with a Personal Injury Attorney
There are various types of incidents which can cause injury. Victims should consider contacting a personal injury attorney if they have suffered an injury because someone was negligent, or when someone’s deliberate action resulted in an injury. Some of the benefits of working with an attorney include:
- Knowledge of the law — an attorney who practices personal injury law will understand what statutes, including the statute of limitations apply to each case. This is important because there are complicated issues with filing a claim for personal injury.
- Experience with insurers — insurance claims are complicated. Let’s assume someone is involved in a car accident and they suffer serious injuries. Because Massachusetts is a no-fault state, filing a claim against the at-fault driver is more complicated. An attorney has the experience necessary to understand the complexities of all types of personal injury cases.
- Provides advocacy for victims — one of the most important reasons to work with a personal injury attorney is to have an advocate who is representing the best interests of the victim. Insurance companies are not in business to help those who suffer injuries, they are in business to make money. This means minimizing the victim’s claims whenever possible.
When deciding about hiring an attorney to pursue a personal injury claim, it is important to identify a lawyer who has experience handling these cases. There is no hard and fast rule about how much compensation a victim may receive after filing a claim because each situation is different.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer as Soon as Possible
When someone suffers an injury in an accident on the roadway, a slip and fall accident, or they are a victim of a crime which could have been prevented by a facility having proper safeguards in place, they should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after seeking medical care. This is the best way to ensure that the statute of limitations does not expire before a claim is filed. Call Riccio Law at 508-226-4500 to schedule a free consultation.