The period immediately following a motorcycle accident can be a chaotic time. Recovering from injuries and arranging for repairs can take a toll. As a result, you may find that months, or even years, have passed since the accident and you still haven’t filed an accident claim.
Despite everything else that is going on, you should try to make filing a claim a top priority after your motorcycle accident. The reason is that there is a limited window of opportunity during which you can file your claim. It is called the statute of limitations. All states have statutes of limitations, although the lengths vary by jurisdiction. If your statute of limitations runs out, your options are limited.
Reasons for Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations apply not just to motorcycle accident claims but to all civil legal actions, i.e., those that do not involve criminal charges or the possibility of jail time. In order to win a lawsuit, you need to provide hard evidence to support your claim. The more time that passes between the accident and the lawsuit, the more difficult it will be to find sufficient evidence. Physical evidence from the scene may be lost, destroyed, or worn away by time. Memories of witnesses can start to fade.
A lawsuit without evidence is a waste of everyone’s time. That is why statutes of limitations exist.
Differences Among States
Each state decides on its own statute of limitations for personal injury claims. These can vary widely but are typically around two to four years.
States can also impose different statutes of limitations for various types of accidents. In some states, the statute of limitations applies broadly to all personal injury claims, while other states, e.g., Colorado, may have a separate statute of limitations specifically for motorcycle accidents.
The type of claim may also make a difference. Some states have different statutes of limitations for wrongful death claims than for a personal injury claim that did not result in a fatality.
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations is strictly enforced, meaning that the court will not show leniency even if you miss the deadline by a day or two. Rarely, however, exceptions may apply in extenuating circumstances. For example, you may have been in a coma as a result of the accident and therefore unable to bring a lawsuit. You may have been injured as a passenger in a motorcycle accident while under the age of 18. It may have taken years to discover the identity of the driver that hit you. Some states are more willing to make exceptions under circumstances such as these than others.
Filing a lawsuit within the statute of limitations effectively stops the clock. To find out more about the statutes that apply to you, contact our office today.