Car accidents can cause severe and lasting damage. The financial repercussions of a crash can ripple out through your life and leave you facing significant expenses for years to come. Recovering compensation can be essential. However, you have limited time to take action when attempting to claim damages against the liable party.
In New Jersey, the personal injury statute of limitations gives car accident victims two years to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Should you miss this deadline, you might be out of options for recovering compensation. At Rand Spear, we have a long track record of helping car accident victims get the money they need. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Options for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit if the Statute of Limitations Deadline Has Already Passed
While the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is typically very strict, under certain circumstances, accident victims may be eligible to submit their lawsuit after the two-year deadline.
The Discovery Rule
In some cases, the “discovery rule” allows accident victims to file a lawsuit outside the standard two-year window. Under this rule, if an injury is not immediately evident after your accident, your two-year clock will not start until the damage is discovered or should have reasonably been discovered.
Injuries can take a while to become apparent after a car accident for a number of reasons. Adrenaline levels during and after a crash can be incredibly high, masking pain from an injury. Additionally, some internal injuries don’t immediately present symptoms.
However, you should know that recovering compensation for an injury that was not diagnosed soon after your accident can be tricky. The defense is likely going to attempt to convince the jury that your injuries were not actually caused by the accident but instead resulted from an unrelated incident.
Minors Involved in an Accident
If you suffered damages in an accident as a minor, you won’t have to file a lawsuit immediately. While your parents can file on your behalf to recover compensation to cover the damages you suffered, if no legal action is taken, the two-year clock will not begin to run until your 18th birthday.
When the At-Fault Party Leaves the State
The deadline for filing can also be extended in cases where the at-fault party leaves the state after causing your accident. If this happens, the clock on your time limit for filing will pause until they return. If the liable party leaves for an extended period, it could put you in a position where your window for filing reopens years after your accident.
Additional Restrictions that Can Further Limit the Amount of Time You Have to File
While your timeframe for filing a lawsuit can be extended in some situations, it can also be reduced in certain cases. One example of this is if you are attempting to recover compensation from a government entity. When suing the government, you must file an official notice of your intent to submit a personal injury lawsuit within six months of your accident.
Ignorance of a deadline will not protect you from it. If an unexpected deadline sneaks up on you, you could lose your right to recover compensation from the liable party without realizing that the cutoff date has passed you by.
The best way to avoid being stung by an unexpected deadline is to hire an experienced car accident lawyer in New Jersey. Your attorney will be able to review the details of your case to see if any additional deadlines could stand in your way. They will ensure that all paperwork gets filed on time and help you avoid any other obstacles to recovering damages.
More Reasons Why Acting Quickly Can Benefit You After a Car Accident
Even if you are sure that you have the full two years to file a lawsuit, you should not wait to take action. For one, two years can pass quickly. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute to find a lawyer and get your lawsuit filed. Another benefit of getting started early is that it will put your attorney in a far better position to build a strong case on your behalf.
If you don’t hire a lawyer until several months after your accident, it is likely that much of the evidence they could have used to help prove your case will have become lost or corrupted in the meantime. Furthermore, any witness testimony you hope to use as part of your case will become less reliable the further removed from the date of the accident.
Hiring an attorney early will also provide you with protection against the insurance company. Insurers will use a variety of techniques to attempt to deny or devalue your claim before you hire legal representation. Having a lawyer by your side can help protect you against these predatory practices.
Obtaining Legal Representation After a Car Accident Is Essential
Attempting to recover compensation after an accident by representing yourself is never a good idea. You need to understand that even lawyers hire other lawyers to help with their own legal concerns. Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer will significantly increase your chances of recovering the money you need after a crash.
At Rand Spear, we understand the challenges you face after a car accident. Our car accident lawyer in New Jersey can help you every step of the way, including by ensuring that all deadlines are met. Contact us today by phone or through the contact form on our website to get started with a free consultation with a member of our legal team.