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Statute of Limitations: How Long Am I Allowed Before I Decide to File a Lawsuit?

Louisiana Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims

All states, including the state of Louisiana, have a “statute of limitations”—or time limit—that dictates how long victims have to file personal injury claims.

For most accidents and personal injury cases the time is one (1) year from the date of the accident, however there are exemptions. A trusted New Orleans personal injury attorney who is experienced in these fields will know what the exceptions entail.

 Three types of injury claims include: 

Why is There a Limit on When I Can File A Lawsuit?

The main reason for the statute of limitations in Louisiana is to protect the defendant and provide a fair trial. The defendant is the person, company, or institution being sued or accused.  This means that a plaintiff with a valid cause should pursue their case with reasonable diligence allowing the defendant to provide evidence, testimony, or witnesses that have not deteriorated with time.

There are many nuances and exceptions to the statutes rule. For example, a personal injury you have sustained may not start the statutes clock until you knew about it, and not necessarily on the date it actually occurred. Depending on your claim, you may even have additional time for another claim that’s related to your original injury claim. You should seek legal counsel for help and answers to these questions from a qualified, trusted personal injury attorney close to you.

Discovery Rule

Instances, when a disease or injury does not result until many years after exposure to a harmful substance, is an example of a claim that does not expire after one year of being injured because special circumstances won’t allow them to act immediately following the injury. Basically, this means that based on the demand for discovery rule, the statute of limitations would begin only when the person injured becomes knowledgeable about the injury.

This may also apply when a person who is pursuing an injury claim is unable to determine the responsible party for the injury. “Discovery” in law or a motion for discovery is a pre-trial procedure that is a means to obtain evidence from the other party in certain ways.

A few examples of discovery devices are:

  • Interrogatories: Questions are written by one party to the other to be answered in writing, under oath
  • Request for production of documents: Asking a party to hand over any type of documented information, digitally or tangible
  • Request for physical examination: Get an examination by a doctor
  • Request for admissions: Asking a party to admit or deny certain statements or allegations
  • Depositions: Answering questions under oath with a court reporter present
  • Request for inspection: Request to look at tangible items, often times when it’s impractical to have the item delivered

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Louisiana

Most personal injury claims in the state of Louisiana are governed by a one-year statute limitation. For example, as with most personal injury claims, when a bodily injury occurs as a result of a negligent act, such as an automobile accident or truck accident, the prescriptive period will begin the day after the accident. The statute of limitation to file a lawsuit in the event of a car accident expires on the one year anniversary of the accident.

There are some exceptions where a two-year statute of limitations applies. If damages or injuries were caused by a violent criminal offense, for example, the statute of limitations is extended to two years. Generally though, if you don’t file a lawsuit for a personal injury claim in Louisiana until after the statute of limitations has expired, your case will more than likely be dismissed. Many people ask us: “Can statute of limitations be extended?”, and the answer is yes, in some rare circumstances, depending on the type of claim, but you should consult a personal injury attorney about your case as the criteria for this is very complex.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

In medical malpractice law, a person can file a lawsuit for damages or bodily injury against any provider of health services if they’ve been negligent.

Some of these professionals include:

  • Physicians
  • Chiropractors
  • Nurses
  • Licensed midwife practitioners
  • Dentists
  • Psychologists
  • Optometrists
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Community blood centers
  • Tissue banks

This must be done within one year of the act of negligence from one of these responsible parties that resulted in a bodily injury or wrongful death, or this must be filed within a year of the discovery of the injury or death.

There is also an exception to the statute of limitations in Louisiana with regard to medical malpractice claims, and it may be possible for a person to file a claim as late as three years within the time of the injury or death. This is known as the “statute of repose”, and it means that a person cannot file a medical negligence claim after three years have passed since the medical malpractice occurred.

If you feel you have a medical negligence case due to medical incompetence, talk to an attorney who you trust that will help you with the medical negligence claim process.

Maritime Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for maritime law differs from the Louisiana statute of limitations rule and gives a person three years to file an injury claim. Maritime injury claims fall under federal maritime law which differs from the Louisiana laws for statutes of limitations in personal injury cases; however, federal courts have reduced the maritime statute of limitation in Louisiana to one year in most cases. This would apply to a case regarding an injury on a ship in New Orleans where courts would usually limit the time to file suit within one year.

Contact a Trusted New Orleans Personal Injury Attorney

The New Orleans personal injury attorneys at Voorhies Law have been fighting for our client’s injury rights for almost a decade. 

We’re located right here in New Orleans, but can service all parishes in Louisiana, including Baton Rouge & Lafayette.  The law regarding statutes of limitations can be complex, especially for areas like wrongful death and medical malpractice.

Don’t leave your case up to chance, hire a professional, trusted personal injury attorney. Call Today (504) 875-2223 or contact us.