Before you file any type of lawsuit in Indiana, you need to know about the statute of limitations that applies to your case. The statute of limitations is a limit on the amount of time that can pass before the right to pursue an action is barred. Criminal cases have a statute of limitations as well.
If you were recently injured in a car accident, slip and fall or other type of incident due to someone else’s wrongdoing, our experienced Indiana personal injury lawyers at Truitt Law Offices can help you to understand the statute of limitations that is relevant to your case. We can advise you on how much time remains in which to file a claim, and we can ensure that all deadlines are met in your case. Because timing is so important, make sure to contact us as soon as possible to review your case in a free consultation.
Why Do Statutes of Limitations Exist?
Statutes of limitations exist for a variety of reasons, including:
- They protect defendants from having to worry about whether they will be sued or arrested after a great deal of time has passed. This is a matter of fairness.
- They reduce the risk that potentially crucial evidence in a case will be lost or destroyed, which is more likely to happen when too much time has passed. Additionally, over time, the memories of parties and potential witnesses will fade.
- They force plaintiffs in civil cases and prosecutors in criminal cases to act with due diligence.
After years and years have passed, the facts of a case can simply become murky and challenging to determine. So, in this sense, statutes of limitation help to protect everyone in civil and criminal cases. They ultimately serve to promote the interests of justice.
What Are the Statutes of Limitations in Civil Cases in Indiana?
At Truitt Law Offices, our attorneys work exclusively on personal injury claims, which are a type of civil action. People file civil lawsuits for the purpose of recovering financial compensation, or damages. These lawsuits are separate and distinct from criminal cases. So, they are governed by a separate set of statutes of limitations. In Indiana, the statutes of limitations for the following civil actions are:
- Wrongful death: Two years
- Property damage: Two years
- Premises liability: Two years
- Legal malpractice: Two years
- Personal injury: Two years
- Medical malpractice: Two years.
In most cases, the clock on the statute of limitations starts ticking from the moment that the cause of action arises. It may start to run on the date when a person suffers an injury or, as in medical malpractice cases, when a negligent act occurs which causes an injury. In wrongful death cases, the statute of limitations starts to run from the date of the victim’s death.
For example, if you suffer an injury in a car accident on December 1, 2019, then the two-year statute of limitations will expire on December 1, 2021. However, if your loved one died on December 20, 2019 from the injuries which he or she suffered in that accident, the wrongful death statute of limitations would not expire until December 20, 2021.
Exceptions to the Indiana Statute of Limitations
In some situations, the statute of limitations won’t start to tick from the date that an accident or injury occurred, or from the date of the negligent act. Instead, the statute of limitations may run from the date that a person knew or reasonably should have discovered that he or she suffered an injury. This is called the discovery rule.
For example, if a surgeon left a piece of medical equipment inside of a patient, and the patient did not discover that this negligence occurred until three years after he or she developed serious complications, the patient would not be held to the two-year time limit. Instead, that patient would have two years from the date of discovery in which to file a medical malpractice claim against the at-fault doctor or other medical professional.
If patient was age 6 or younger at the time of the alleged medical negligence, then the patient will have until he or she turns age 8 to file a claim. This rule applies even when a child suffers injuries at birth.
Additionally, if a patient sues for more than $15,000 in a medical malpractice case, the patient must first submit a complaint to a medical malpractice review panel before the case can go to court. The statute of limitations will be “tolled,” or stop running, for 90 days after the patient receives the panel’s opinion.
In Indiana medical malpractice cases, two other rules can affect the statute of limitations:
- First, the two-year limit cannot be raised as a defense if the medical professional committed an act of deception that prevented a patient from discovering the alleged malpractice and injury within the two-year statute of limitations period.
- Second, if the medical professional’s negligence was part of a continuing course of conduct, the clock will not start to tick on the statute of limitations until the continuing conduct ends.
Finally, if you file a claim against a government entity, you generally must file a notice of claim within six months after the cause of action arises.
Our Personal Injury Lawyers in Indiana Are Here to Serve You
If you have questions about the statute of limitations for your personal injury case, we can help at Truitt Law Offices. We believe that it is always best to start working on cases as soon as possible after an accident or injury occurs. So, we encourage you to get in touch with us immediately if you are able. We will start working on your case as soon as we meet with you, including conducting a thorough investigation into what happened to you or your loved one.
We never want anyone to be barred from a financial recovery because they took too long to file a lawsuit. To avoid this issue, contact us right away and schedule a free consultation through our offices in Fort Wayne, Huntington or Indianapolis.