A common phrase that is often associated with personal injury is “statute of limitations.” In a legal context, a statute of limitations refers to a body of law determined by an individual state which provides a period of time that limits legal action. Statutes of limitations are enacted to essentially protect defendants from being sued for an incident that occurred a number of years ago. If a plaintiff attempts to file a lawsuit past the allotted time frame, given by a state’s statute of limitations, they will be barred from doing so, in accordance with the law.
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations that surrounds personal injury claims is two years from the date of injury. As an example, if Person A is injured in a car accident in New Jersey on January 1, 2017, at the fault of the other driver, Person B, then Person A can only sue for damages within the two-year window of opportunity. The two-year window would be from January 1, 2017, to January 1, 2019. Say Person A, at the time of the accident, decided that they did not want to pursue legal action against Person B. However, they then changed their mind after an underlying medical condition was diagnosed as a result of the accident on February 1, 2019. Person A would no longer be able to sue for damages, as the statute of limitations in New Jersey is capped at two years.
The New Jersey statute of limitations is enforceable on personal injury claims, which include:
- Car accident;
- Truck accident;
- Motor vehicle accident;
- Slip and fall at school, work, hospital or on a boardwalk;
- Product liability;
- Nursing home negligence; or
- Wrongful death, among others.
Interestingly, there are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations law, which include:
- Medical malpractice; and
- Birth injuries.
Since minors are considered those under the age of 18, they are generally exempt from the statute of limitations law until they reach the age of eighteen. Minors then have two years from the day they turn eighteen to engage in legal proceedings against another party if they have a personal injury claim against them. For example, if a minor is injured when they are fourteen, they have until the day they turn twenty to seek legal action against the wrong-doer.
Medical malpractice cases also have a more lenient approach to the statute of limitations law in New Jersey. Here, the discovery rule is used. The discovery rule allows those affected by medical malpractice to have two years from the date of the discovery of the ailment to file a lawsuit. If a child is injured at birth due to the negligence of a doctor, hospital, or another medical professional, they are typically exempt from the New Jersey statute of limitations as well, though only to an extent. The family of a child injured at birth can bring a lawsuit on their behalf, but only up until the child’s thirteenth birthday.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of another and are unsure of your right to sue, it is important to contact an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney to review your legal rights and indicate possible remedies. The attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group are skilled personal injury lawyers, who will fight for the compensation you and your family are entitled to receive. Please contact us today at 908-352-2500 to schedule a free initial consultation.