If you have been injured in a car accident, you may wonder how long you have to file a claim. If you were hurt by negligence, you have a legal deadline to file your case. This legal deadline is known as the statute of limitations, and it can stop your ability to recover damages.
Statute of limitations
The statute of limitations is the time limit the law puts on filing your claim in civil court. It applies to just about all civil actions, and the statute of limitations exists to ensure that cases are brought within reasonable amounts of times after harms occur, when the evidence of that harm is fresh, and witnesses are available. It also gives finality to potential defendants as it protects them from being sued based on claims for which there is very little evidence, lost records, no witnesses, etc.
What is it in Mississippi?
In our state, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is three years. This period starts when the accident occurred, when the injury occurred or when you should have discovered the injury. This means that you have three years from this time to sue the person, persons, entity and/or entities that caused your injuries. Otherwise, you may lose your legal right to do so in the future.
Personal injury claims refer to motor vehicle accidents, like car accidents, truck accidents and motorcycle accidents. It also refers to bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, dog bites, premises liability, product liability and any wrongful deaths that result from any of the above.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes. If you were injured intentionally, you must file your lawsuit within 1 year. Though, you likely have punitive (punishment) damages available. If the negligent party was a government employee or agency, you also only have 1 year to file a notice of claim before your lawsuit.
If your accident occurred when you were a minor or when you were mentally incapacitated, the statute of limitations does not start until you reach 18 or become mentally competent. Finally, if the negligent party left Mississippi after the accident, the statute of limitations stops until they come back.
Every claim is different and complex. But, regardless of its nature, it does have a statute of limitations, and you need to be mindful you do not run afoul of it. Otherwise, you could lose your rights.