If someone other that the injured party caused an injury, then an issue always arises as to how long does the injured party have to bring a legal action against the at-fault party. Each state has specific time frames in which the injured party must file a legal action against the at-fault party, and if that time period lapses then the suit is barred by a statute of limitations.
Legal Definition of Bodily Injury
Bodily injury is an injury to the human body. This can occur in a car accident, a slip-and-fall in a gas station parking lot or many other ways. Bodily injury can also result in mental and emotional harm to an injured party, and this too is considered bodily injury. Damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life are also bodily injury damages.
Each state has its own time limitations
If someone causes another to suffer a bodily injury, then the state where the injury occurred will determine the applicable statute of limitations. In some states it may only be one year from the injury date, while in others it may be five years. Regardless, if the injured party does not file a lawsuit against the at-fault party within the statute of limitations and then later attempts to bring suit, his claim will be barred.
Tolling of Statute of Limitation
On most types of bodily injuries in most states the statute of limitations can be tolled. The term "tolled" means that an injured party has time beyond the time frame of a state's limitation period to still file suit until certain events occur. In essence, a minor will usually have additional time to file suit within a time frame after she reaches an adult age of majority, as defined by the state. The actual date that an injured party knows or should have known a doctor or lawyer committed malpractice begins the tolling of the limitation period. Also, injured parties that are mentally incompetent by the injury or otherwise are given additional time to file suit.
Certain injuries have unique statutes of limitations.
Most bodily injuries and the applicable statute of limitations are grouped generally. However, certain types of injuries that occur have their own statue of limitations. For example, most states have unique limitation periods as to the time frame to bring suit against a doctor or hospital, and similarly with lawyers and malpractice. Defective product claims also have their own unique statutes of limitations in most states.
A statute of repose can bar a suit forever.
In considering the statute of limitations as to bodily injury claims, it is important to address any statutes of repose that may apply to the injury at issue. For example, in most states a product liability claim against a home builder or a manufacturer will be barred after a certain amount of years regardless of any tolling provisions discussed above (and forever barred). The statute of repose is usually considerably longer than the number of years allowed under the statute of limitation to file suit