Although statute of limitations laws often provide firm deadlines for taking legal action, there are a few exceptions that will allow you extra time to pursue your Louisiana personal injury claim.
About Statute of Limitations Laws
Statute of limitations laws affect how long you have to file a personal injury claim. Each state has slightly different laws, but all are designed to ensure that cases are filed and resolved in a timely fashion. Since evidence becomes more difficult to locate as time passes, statute of limitations laws protect people from the threat of legal action when they're no longer able to defend themselves.
Louisiana's statute of limitations for personal injury claims related to car accidents, dog bites, slip and fall claims, and other accidents caused by another party's negligence is one year. The deadline for a wrongful death claim, which is a type of personal injury case where someone dies due to the negligence of another party, is also one year.
If you miss this deadline and try to take your case to court, the defendant can request that the claim be dismissed. Unless your case falls into one of the categories containing a special exception, the court will likely grant the request.
Exceptions for Cases Involving Children
When a child is injured in an accident, the statute of limitations doesn't begin until the child turns 18. This means, the claim can be filed until one year after the child's eighteenth birthday, regardless of how old he was at the time of the accident.
Exceptions for Cases Involving Multiple At-Fault Parties
Some types of personal injury claims such as multi-car pile ups involve more than one party who is at fault. If a claim involves multiple defendants, you must sue one party within the one-year statute of limitations. However, you can successfully sue a second party outside of the year deadline if it is determined that both defendants are liable together.
Exceptions for the Discovery Rule
If an accident is caused by a defective product, such as a poorly constructed vehicle component, the statute of limitations clock doesn't begin until it's determined that the information regarding the true cause of the injury should be reasonably discoverable.
The discovery rule can also apply in cases where someone simply does not know an injury-causing event has occurred. For example, someone who suffers respiratory distress or organ damage due to exposure to a hazardous chemical might not immediately know that he’s been exposed to something dangerous. In this case, the one-year statute of limitations doesn't begin until the cause of the person's injuries has been established.
Wrongful death cases where there are no witnesses and a conclusive cause of death can't be established might also fall under the discovery rule. However, you must consult an attorney to be certain of the deadline for filing your claim.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
A personal injury case can include the following types of compensation:
- Medical expenses, including immediate medical care as well as anticipated future medical care if you've been left with a lasting disability
- Lost wages, including immediate time off work as well as the anticipated loss of future earning potential due to an accident-related disability
- Pain and suffering, including both physical discomfort and emotional trauma
- Funeral and burial costs for a wrongful death claim
- Loss of care and companionship of the deceased in a wrongful death claim
Your attorney can help you assess how much your case is worth, locate the necessary evidence to prove negligence, document your damages, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Since personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis, there is no upfront cost for representation. Your attorney will accept a percentage of the final settlement you receive as the fee for legal services.
The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are committed to helping Louisiana residents who've suffered harm due to the negligence of others receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.