How Long Can I Wait to Sue?

This is not a simple question. Some people will automatically say two years from the date of the injury. But that is only correct some of the time. As an example, if a government employee in a State, County or City car hits you while you are on your bike, your injury claim ( if you are 18 years old) most of the time the Statute of Limitations period starts when you were hit. But suppose the accident puts you in a coma — that disability may extend the time for you to sue. Or, IF you are under 18 at the time of the accident, the time may be extended. But what is the time for an auto wreck when there is a State, County or City vehicle involved?

Now comes the tricky part for that special class of defendants — because the time period may be shorter. You must do the Notice of Claim to the government agency responsible for the accident within 180 days of the injury. That is not the same as filing a lawsuit for the auto wreck, boating accident or bike crash. It is simply putting them on notice. After the 180 days expiresfrom service of the notice of claim (which itself is tricky), you must then commence a law suit for whatever the event was, within 180 days.   But again when does the 180 days start is a question. The general explanation is when you knew or should have known of the injury. The obvious ones are automobile wrecks or collisions. You know when that occurred.

The not so obvious events are medical malpractice by leaving something in a person or no way of knowing there was medical malpractice until the problem surfaces. Or, a hit and run accident where it turns out the person leaving the scene was a government employee.

With all that said, the Federal Government has its own rules for Notice of Claim and although some argue the two year statue may apply, the better view is that until a Notice of Claim is filed, the statute does not commence. Suppose it is a postal truck or a border patrol agent, these would be federal matters and the Federal Tort Claims Act, not the State Statute would apply.

So before you decide that you waited too long, it is best to check with a lawyer as to when the statute of limitations began or if it has already.

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