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What is the Statute of Limitations in Indiana?

Statute of limitations (SOL) on a court desk.

Recovering damages after an accident requires overcoming a number of legal obstacles.  You have to know where and how to file your claims, identify the appropriate defendants and other parties that must be notified, determine which insurance companies should be contacted and whether your claims should be with them or with the parties themselves, and take stock of any number of other legal issues.  One of the easiest pitfalls that can destroy any personal injury claim is the “statute of limitations.”  The statute of limitations is the legal time limit for filing a lawsuit, and it varies depending on the state, the type of claim, the nature of the defendant, and the circumstances of the claim.  If you miss your time limit, you lose out on your chance to recover any damages for your injuries.  Read on to learn about the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Indiana and contact an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer if you’ve been hurt by someone else’s negligence in Indiana.

Standard Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury

Most personal injury lawsuits, such as claims stemming from slip-and-falls or car accidents, have the same general statute of limitations in Indiana:  You must file your lawsuit within two years from the date of the accident, incident, or other injury that forms the basis of your claim.  For example, in the typical car accident claim, you have two years from the date of the crash to file your claim.

You may have reason to delay or “toll” the start of the limitations period.  For example, if you could not have known that your injury was caused by negligence, but a month after your injury you discover evidence suggesting someone else’s negligence actually caused your injuries, your attorney may be able to argue that the statute of limitations should be two years from the date of discovering that new evidence, rather than the date of the accident itself.  Similarly, if you contracted an illness in the workplace, you might have two years from discovery of the illness to file.

Exceptions for Disabilities, Minors, Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death, Product Liability

There are specific situations and types of claims that change or delay the limitations period in Indiana.  Personal injury victims who become temporarily disabled as a result of an accident, for example, have two years from the date that the legal disability status is lifted to bring their claims.  The law understands that if persons are bedridden or disabled, they are not able to properly build and file a claim, and they should not be punished for their disability.

Indiana also recognizes that medical malpractice is often hard to identify on the date it occurs–you may not know that a doctor left behind an object in your body when removing your appendix until you get a check-up a few months later and report unusual pain.  For that reason, your two-year period starts the later of either the date of the malpractice or the date that you reasonably discovered the malpractice. 

Indiana has specific rules for additional types of claims and categories of plaintiffs.  If the victim of medical malpractice was a minor under six years old, they have until they turn 18 to file a lawsuit.  For wrongful death claims, plaintiffs have two years from the date of death of the victim, rather than the date of the accident. 

Finally, while product liability claims must generally be brought within two years of injury by a defective product, you cannot bring a claim if it has been more than ten years since you purchased the product.  There is a limited exception to the 10-year rule:  You have two years to file your claim after a defective product injury if the injury occurred within ten years of product purchase, even if that means you file after the 10-year mark (for example, you are injured nine years after purchase and then sue 11 years after purchase).

Legal Help for Indianapolis Personal Injury Victims

If you or someone you love has been hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence in Indiana, contact the dedicated and effective Indianapolis personal injury lawyers at Lee Cossell & Crowley for a free consultation on your case at 316-631-5151.

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