Statutes of limitations are laws that prevent plaintiffs from filing lawsuits after a specified period. Filing a personal injury lawsuit might be impossible if the statute of limitations has expired.
In New Jersey, the statute of limitation on personal injury lawsuits is 2 years. Although this might sound like plenty of time, it is much shorter than many realize. If your personal injury case deadline is coming up fast, you might be able to extend the deadline by tolling the statute. Tolling is not always possible and can only be done under specific circumstances. How much time you can buy yourself depends on why you need to toll the statute. Statutes of limitations are rarely cut short, but the death of one of the parties to a personal injury case might affect the deadline.
If you have a personal injury case on your hands, speak to a lawyer as soon as possible, and do not let the statute of limitations expire. Our Edison personal injury attorneys are here to help you get started. For a free case evaluation, call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769.
Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases in New Jersey
Statutes of limitations are laws that set time limits on when a plaintiff must file their case. Different statutes of limitations might restrict different types of claims, and some allow more time than others. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits is 2 years, according to N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-2(a).
Statutes of limitations impose hard deadlines for filing your case, but the deadline is not entirely inflexible. If the deadline passes and you have not yet filed your personal injury claim, you might lose the right to do so forever. However, if certain conditions prevented you from filing the claim, you might be able to toll the statute and buy more time, as explained in further detail below.
Although 2 years seems like plenty of time to prepare your case and file it in court, it is not as long as you might think. Before filing your case, you should speak with an attorney and investigate for evidence and witnesses. You also need to assess your damages and determine what kind of relief (i.e., financial compensation) you are entitled to. All this takes time, and our New Jersey personal injury lawyers can help you do it as quickly as possible.
Extending the Statute of Limitations in New Jersey Personal Injury Lawsuits
As previously mentioned, statutes of limitations impose hard deadlines, but they are not without exceptions. You can toll the statute under specific circumstances and get more time to file your lawsuit. Tolling is not always possible and is usually available only where plaintiffs were prevented from filing due to circumstances beyond their control. Our Newark personal injury lawyers can help you determine if tolling the statute is possible in your case.
The Defendant is Not a Resident of New Jersey
Under N.J.S.A § 2A:14-22(a), plaintiffs can toll the statute of limitations in personal injury cases if the defendant is not a resident of the state or has left the state and cannot be reached. When filing a lawsuit, you must serve notice on the defendant. This is a crucial step, and a failure to serve or mistakes made while serving a notice could cost you the entire case.
If a defendant is not a resident of New Jersey or has left the state, they might be beyond the state’s jurisdictional reach. Long-arm statutes are designed to bring out-of-state defendants within the state’s jurisdiction, but they are not always available.
If the defendant in your case does not live in New Jersey or left the state, and they cannot be reached by long-arm statute, you can toll the statute of limitations. Defendants sometimes flee the state to run down the clock and evade liability. Under the law, the time the defendant is out of the state does not count toward the deadline imposed by the statute of limitation.
Minors usually cannot file lawsuits on their own or have trouble reporting their injuries to an adult who can help them. Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-21, a potential plaintiff younger than 18 can file their lawsuit after reaching the age of majority.
The statute of limitation begins to run for minors on their 18th birthday rather than on the day they were injured. However, specific kinds of personal injuries might adhere to different rules. For example, medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries must be commenced before the child turns 13. If there is no parent or guardian to file the case for the child, the court can appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor plaintiff.
Insanity or Disability
Insanity is not so much a mental health condition or diagnosis as it is a legal term. A person can claim insanity and toll the statute of limitations if they are incompetent and cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. Our Jersey City personal injury lawyers can help you figure out if you can toll the statute of limitations in your case using this rule.
Similar to the rule regarding minors, people who cannot file a lawsuit because of their mental state can toll the statute until their mental state recovers, and they can file. Essentially, a person would have 2 years from the date their mental capacity improves to file their lawsuit. This rule may also cover other disabilities that prevent someone from filing a personal injury lawsuit within the statute of limitations.
What Happens to the Statute of Limitations if Somebody Dies in New Jersey?
The statute of limitations is rarely cut short. However, the death of one of the parties to a personal injury lawsuit might limit the time you have to file your case. If someone involved in your lawsuit recently passed away, speak to our Elizabeth personal injury lawyers about what you should do immediately.
If the person seeking to file the personal injury action passes away before they can do so, the case does not simply go away. Someone on behalf of the deceased plaintiff’s estate, like a family member or representative, can still file the case. However, according to N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-23.1, the cause of action will be barred 6 months after death. The same rule applies when a defendant passes away before legal action can commence.
Call Our New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Case Review
If you want to sue for your injuries, you must do so within the statute of limitations. If you believe that time is running short, our Paterson personal injury lawyers can help you file your claims quickly or toll the deadline if necessary. Call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769 for a free case review.