The ramifications of a serious injury can last for a lifetime. Many people discover that they do not recover the same mobility and function they had before an accident, regardless of the effort they put into recovery. Patients may find that they suffer from ongoing pain related to old injuries.
So, can I sue for an old injury? If you still suffer from old injuries caused by another person’s negligence find out. This post explores the answer to that question. Contact a personal injury lawyer in your area to learn more about your unique situation.
The Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Claims
Every state has a statute of limitations that governs how long you have to file an injury claim. In Florida, for example, a victim may have up to four years to file an injury claim. In Pennsylvania, on the other hand, victims only have two years to file a negligence claim. The time also depends on who caused your injury; for example, some states have a shorter statute of limitations for an accident caused by a government entity.
Because the statute of limitations varies by state and on who caused your injury, speak with a lawyer to determine how long you have to file a claim. A lawyer can advise you on how to file the claim correctly.
When the Statute of Limitations Has Not Yet Passed
The statute of limitations creeps up quickly after an injury. However, while recovering from your injury, you may not want to focus on an injury claim. You might forget about your right to file a claim until after you recover. If the statute of limitations has not yet passed, you may still have the right to file an injury claim.
If You Discovered Your Injuries Later
In some cases, you may have the right to file a claim for an injury you discovered long after the accident. Suppose, for example, that you broke your wrist in a slip and fall accident. You may not have realized the full extent of your injuries immediately, so you may not have pursued treatment. Later, however, your wrist might start to give you serious trouble. On visiting the doctor, you might discover that you have a long-ago broken bone that was set wrong or healed incorrectly and now needs surgical repair.
Ideally, visit the hospital immediately after a serious accident to rule out any injuries. Receiving immediate medical treatment makes getting the care you need easier, which can streamline your recovery and make you less likely to experience long-term effects from your injuries.
Seeing a medical care provider as soon as possible can also help establish when your injuries occurred. In the example above, it could be challenging to prove when you broke your wrist, even if you have reason to believe your injuries directly resulted from the fall.
Sometimes, you might discover and document minor injuries immediately after your accident but later uncover more severe injuries related to the incident. For example, you might have assumed that you had sprained your wrist and received appropriate medical treatment for the sprain but later discovered that you had broken bones.
In that situation, you might have better medical evidence that would more clearly establish your right to compensation from the party that caused your slip and fall.
If You Later Discovered More Evidence Establishing Liability
After an accident, you might assume that you know who caused the accident. However, you might not realize that another party contributed to the accident until much later.
Suppose, for example, you got hurt when falling down the stairs in a store. Later, you discover that the store used a dangerous, slippery substance to wax those stairs. In that case, you might have the right to move forward with an injury claim, even though you suffered the accident and injuries long ago.
In addition, you may have initially felt that you caused your accident, only to uncover information later that someone else may have contributed to that accident and your injuries. You may even have felt pressured not to proceed with a claim because of your potential liability in the issue. Once the truth comes to light, you may have the right to move forward with a claim for your old injuries, even if some time has passed since the initial incident.
If You Were Injured as a Minor
Most states give minors additional time to file injury claims. Because minors cannot file an injury claim independently, they must rely on a parent or guardian to take care of the claim process. Sometimes, parents and guardians cannot file a claim or may choose not to. Additionally, childhood injuries can heal very differently from adult injuries.
Some children may suffer unexpected consequences from injuries, including long-term disabilities or limitations. Those injuries may not seem evident until much later. If you sustained injuries as a minor, you might have the right to file a claim for yourself once you reach your eighteenth birthday, regardless of how long ago the injury occurred. Talk to a lawyer to learn more about your rights.
How Can You File a Claim for an Old Injury?
If you have an old injury, you should file a claim as soon as possible. While several exceptions exist that can toll the statute of limitations and give you more time to move forward with a claim, you may need to move forward quickly to protect your rights.
- Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. If another person negligently caused your old injury, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer can help answer any questions about your accident and whether you still have the right to proceed with a claim. They will have considerable experience dealing with the statute of limitations and its implications in injury claims. In addition, a lawyer can serve as a vital source of information and assistance as you put together your claim. You may have a hard time collecting evidence related to an old injury. Records can disappear or be difficult to obtain, and witnesses may not have a strong memory of the initial event. A lawyer can help collect vital evidence and make it easier to build the claim you need.
- Collect any evidence you may have. Because old evidence is hard to collect, anything you have on hand can make it easier to establish who caused your injuries. Collect all of the evidence you have for your lawyer. Make sure you have personal copies of any critical records that you might need later.
- Receive medical care for your injuries. If you recently discovered the injuries you sustained in the accident, ensure you receive medical care for those injuries. Comprehensive medical care can help you make as much of a recovery as possible. Document all medical care you receive for your injuries, including any statements about when the injuries occurred. The more information you have about your medical care and needs, the easier it will be to put together a compelling injury claim.
When Should I Move Forward With an Old Injury Claim?
Ideally, move forward with an old injury claim as soon as possible. You may want to talk to a lawyer to know exactly when you should proceed with the claim. Sometimes, your lawyer may advise waiting until you have progressed further in your recovery before you finalize your claim. However, you may not have time to wait until you make a full recovery to begin your injury claim.
The sooner you start moving forward with a personal injury claim, the easier it will be to collect the evidence you need. Evidence can quickly disappear or deteriorate after an accident. By starting the claim process as soon as you can, you can help protect that evidence and make establishing your right to compensation easier.
What Happens if I Try to File a Claim After the Statute of Limitations Expires?
Once the statute of limitations runs out, insurance companies will usually refuse to review your claim. A court will also refuse to hear your claim unless an exemption would entitle you to have your claim heard despite the extended timeline.
Sometimes, in the case of serious injuries, the party that injured you may try to help you by sending you money. However, legally, that party may have no obligation to offer you financial compensation for the accident once the statute of limitations has run out. You may have no room to negotiate or insist on compensation for your injuries.
To protect your finances after a serious accident, file an injury claim as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to move forward with your claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Claim for an Old Injury?
If you want to successfully file a claim for an old injury, having a lawyer on your side is essential to recovering compensation for those injuries. A lawyer can help identify potential exceptions to the statute of limitations that may give you more time to proceed with a claim.
They will also be better at arguing for your rights, especially if you have allowed the initial statute of limitations to run out on your claim. Trying to handle your claim on your own without a lawyer could leave you struggling to have your voice heard or to receive any compensation for your injuries.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer to Learn About Your Rights Regarding Old Injuries
If you have an old injury that could entitle you to compensation, do not try to handle your injury claim alone. Instead, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. If an old injury flares up or new information comes to light, contact a personal injury lawyer for more information about your next steps.