According to preliminary figures from the National Safety Council, deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents increased 6% in the United States. That is nothing to write home about!
What is the Statute of Limitations?
A “statute of limitations” is a state law that puts a time limit on the right of a prospective plaintiff to file a lawsuit after they have suffered some type of injury, damage, or loss – such as an injury or damage to a vehicle after an accident.
The deadlines for filing a suit usually differ depending on the type of case that the plaintiff wants to initiate.
Statute of Limitations in DC
For most car accident lawsuits in Washington, D.C., the statute of limitations is the same as the larger one applying to personal injury cases that are filed in the district. D.C. Code section 12-301 specifically requires that a lawsuit for injury to property or personal injury be filed within 3 years (for more details on this, you need to speak to a legal counselor).
This obviously includes any claim of injury or property damage brought by a driver, bicyclist, passenger, or pedestrian after a car accident. For such cases, the “clock” of the statute of limitations starts running on the date that the crash occurred.
However, the deadline is different when the case involves a person’s death (as a result of the accident) and the family or representative of the deceased wishes to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This type of case must be filed within 2 years. The “clock” starts on the date of the death, which could be different from the date of the accident.
It should be noted that whether the car accident results in injury or death, the case will hinge on the ability of the plaintiff to prove that it was the negligence of the other party that caused the crash.
What happens if the Statute of Limitations Has Passed?
If the statute of limitations deadline has passed and you try to file a lawsuit, the person you are trying to file a lawsuit against will ask the court to dismiss the case, and that request will almost certainly be granted by the court. This is why it is important to understand and abide by a state’s statute of limitations as it applies to the lawsuit you are trying to file.
From a standpoint of strategy, it is smart to make sure that you have plenty of time to file a lawsuit, even if you have full confidence that your case will reach a satisfactory settlement. Keeping the option of a lawsuit open, at the very least, will grant you more leverage when negotiations for a settlement begin. If the deadline for the statute of limitations is advancing, it may be time to get in touch with an experienced car accident attorney in DC.
Statute of Limitations for Minors in DC
In DC, for personal injury cases for minors, the statute of limitations is different from the one for adults. Because it pertains to a minor, the statute of limitations is extended to 3 years from the date that the minor turns 18. This means that any minor who has suffered injury or harm due to the negligence of another person has until they are 21 years old in order to be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for the injury or damage.
A minor’s parent or guardian should contact a personal injury attorney on behalf of the child as soon as possible so that the claim can be resolved as efficiently and quickly as possible. Although a minor’s claim has an extension on the statute of limitations, it is usually best to handle the claim as promptly as possible, since the parties have all of the information required at the time.
If you or your child or loved one have been injured in a Washington DC car accident due to another person’s negligence or recklessness, you should immediately get in touch with one of the many standouts and dedicated personal injury lawyers at Hilton & Somer. We will make sure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve for the injury you suffered, as well as other damages.