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How Long Should You Take to File a Personal Injury Claim in New Jersey?

When you’ve suffered a personal injury, the experience can be too traumatic at times for you to actually think about what you should do.

After the accident, usually, all you can think about is why this happened to you, how you are going to afford the exorbitant hospital fees, what will happen to your job if you miss a couple of days of work, etc. The actual experience of the personal injury and then all these stress-inducing thoughts can leave you under immense mental strain and pressure.

Consequently, amidst all this pressure, you might not even think about personal injury claims and receiving the compensation you deserve for all the damage you’ve sustained.

By the time you actually realize this and file a personal injury claim in New Jersey, the statute of limitations would have expired and you would have missed your chance to get your rightful compensation.

That’s why it is best that you contact a personal injury lawyer in New Jersey right away if you or your loved one has suffered a personal injury. If you want to know more about personal injury claims and how long you should take to file a personal injury claim in New Jersey, keep reading. 

What is a Personal Injury Claim?

Before you go about filing a personal injury claim, it is important to understand what constitutes a personal injury claim. It could be that what you thought counted as a personal injury case is not one.

 An experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer comes in handy in situations like these to understand and determine the precise nature of your case. When you suffer any harm or damage due to another person’s actions or lack thereof in case of negligence, you can file a personal injury claim.

This will allow you to sue that person for the damage you’ve suffered and receive compensation for it. There are many cases of personal injuries, which we will discuss in a bit. Some of these cases are pretty clear in the sense that you know who to sue and get your compensation.

However, some cases are not so apparent, and you might just chalk it off as your bad luck and miss out on your compensation. For instance, a slip and fall accident is a common cause of a personal injury claim.

If you happen to walk by someone’s house, slip and fall on a patch of ice and sustain serious injuries, you might blame yourself for not treading carefully. However, that is a typical case of you suffering a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence. After such an incident, you can file a lawsuit against that person and ask them for compensation for your damages.

If you want to file a personal injury claim in New Jersey, ideally, you should bring a case to the right attorney. He will study your case properly and collect all the necessary evidence to strengthen your case and then present it in civil court.

Most importantly, he will know the statute of limitations for your case and how much time you have left to file your claim. 

What is the Statute of Limitations?

Whenever you’re planning to file any kind of claim or lawsuit, personal injury, or otherwise, you need to keep in mind the statute of limitations for that case. Otherwise, all the effort, time and money you’ve put in to build that case could go down the drain.

That’s how important the statute of limitations is. The statute of limitations, also referred to as a prescriptive period in civil law systems, is basically a law that prescribes a particular period of limitation, after which any kind of legal proceeding can not be initiated.

The purpose of such a law is to protect the people involved in that certain case from any claims after that dispute has gone stale, and the integrity of the evidence of that case has been compromised. Different crimes and even different states can have a varying statute of limitations for a particular case.

In some states, such as Louisiana, the statute of limitations can be as short as one year while some crimes, such as first-degree murder, usually have no statute of limitations at all. Sometimes, a plaintiff can suspend the statute of limitations, which basically means temporarily stopping the legal clock, in special cases.

Therefore, if you have suffered a personal injury or have to file any other claim, you can’t just come after ten or twenty years and demand compensation then. It has to be done within a specific time frame so that the evidence can be collected and proper witnesses whose memory is still intact can be brought forward.

If you don’t know the statute of limitations for your particular case in your state, you should consult a lawyer as he will be able to tell you how much time you have left.

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury in New Jersey?

Hopefully, now you realize how crucial the statute of limitations can be in a case. If you want to file a personal injury claim in New Jersey, the statute of limitations for you is two years. This is clearly stated in the New Jersey Statutes in section 2A:14-2.

It states that “..every action at law for an injury to the person caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of any person within this State shall be commenced within two years next after the cause of any such action shall have accrued..

What this means is that you need to file your personal injury claim within two years from the time that your claim was accrued. This is the date on which you actually suffered the personal injury, and the claim became legally viable.

Therefore, if you have suffered a personal injury in New Jersey, whether it was because of something intentional, such as medical malpractice, or negligence, you need to think about the exact date the injury took place and how much time has passed since then.

Two years can be a pretty short time, and if it’s already taken you a lot of time to become aware of the statute of limitations for your case, then you might need to hurry.

Your best option is to reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer in New Jersey who can quickly understand your case details, collect the evidence, contact the witnesses, draw up the paperwork and finally, file the claim in court for you. 

What Happens if You Miss the Last Date to File a Personal Injury Claim in New Jersey?

Normally, if you fail to file a personal injury claim in New Jersey before the statute of limitations expires, you are not allowed to initiate any legal proceedings regarding that case or against that defendant in court.

Even if you do try to file a personal injury claim after the two years have passed, the defendant can submit a petition in court asking for your claim to be dismissed. Moreover, since the statute of limitations has expired, that petition is likely to be accepted, and any attempts to file a case on your part will fail.

All the damage you have sustained due to the personal injury, you will have to bear on your own, and you will not be able to hold anyone else legally accountable. Now, this was the procedure for normal cases that have passed the statute of limitations.

However, as with all things in life, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Here are three cases in which you can still file a personal injury claim in New Jersey even after the normal two-year period:

Minors

In cases where the person who has suffered a personal injury is a minor, an exception can be made to this rule. For instance, if a young child has been bitten by a dog, the person filing the personal injury claim could be given an extension until the child is no longer a minor.

This means the statute of limitations will actually start from the date the child turns 18 or legal. Starting then, he’ll have two years to file his personal injury claim.

However, there is an exception to this rule as well. If the child sustained any injuries due to medical malpractice at birth, then the time period available to start any legal proceedings is until the child’s thirteenth birthday.

Mental Disability

You can also get the statute of limitations extended if you have any mental disability. If a person who is mentally disabled suffers a personal injury, and the two years of the statute of limitations pass, he still has time to file personal injury in New Jersey after he recovers his normal mental capabilities. 

Medical Malpractice

The precise time available for filing a personal injury claim can also vary in cases of medical malpractice.

Rather than two years from the day the injury was sustained, in medical malpractice cases, the two years start from the day the person actually realizes or becomes aware that he has suffered a personal injury.

Such cases allow for an exception to the rule because any injury due to medical malpractice is not always felt or realized right away. It might take you weeks or even months to realize that something isn’t right, and if the statute of limitations expires before that time, you are allowed an extension to file a personal injury claim in New Jersey. 

Despite all these exceptions, the statute of limitations is something you need to consider very seriously. Even if you do get an extension, studying the intricacies of the case, collecting all the right evidence, and building the case can take a long time if it’s a complex situation. Therefore, you should contact a personal injury lawyer right away so that he may handle things quickly and efficiently for the best possible results. 

Common Cases of Personal Injury

If you really want to avoid missing the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim, you need to know the different cases of personal injury. So that even if you do, unfortunately, suffer a personal injury, you’ll know to contact a lawyer and start legal proceedings right away.

Here are some of the common cases of personal injury claims:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Wrongful death due to negligence
  • Premises liability
  • Product liability or defect
  • Dog bites
  • Workplace accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Defamation: libel and slander
  • Assault and battery cases
  • Intentional tort cases
  • Injury from a hazardous drug
  • Injury from a misdiagnosis
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Birth injuries

Conclusion

Whether you have sustained a personal injury today or realized just now that you can get compensation for it, you need to file a personal injury claim in New Jersey immediately. It could be that a significant amount of time has already passed and the statute of limitations is about to expire. 

Have you suffered a personal injury in New Jersey and want to file a claim? Then consult an experienced personal injury lawyer right away before you lose any more precious time. Contact us today!

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