Although it seems unfair, if a personal injury victim misses the statute of limitations, even by a day, there is no claim in court or against anyone’s insurance, no matter how meritorious the claim and deserving the injury victim. Avoiding the statute is easy if you act early, but can be tricky if you act late. It is not as simple as just filing one document, or mailing a letter.
Two recent Court of Appeals cases (not our cases) demonstrate the dangers of the statute of limitations.
An at-fault driver gave his mother’s address to police at the accident scene because he was receiving mail there at the time. Later, the injured driver’s attorney (not our firm) served the at-fault driver at a house where the at-fault driver did not live. The case was dismissed because the injured person did not serve the at-fault driver within the statute of limitations.
A minor was injured and her parents paid the medical bills. (Again, not our clients.) A minor has three years beyond age 18 to file and serve a claim. The minor sued the at-fault driver. The parents also sued for reimbursement of medical bills. The parents’ claims were dismissed because their claims for reimbursement were not filed within the statute of limitations. The parents do not benefit from the age 18 plus three years period.
It is difficult to conclude that the attorneys in these cases did anything wrong. Perhaps, for example, their clients contacted them late and the attorneys acted as best they could with limited information under time constraints. The point is to contact an attorney early to avoid statute of limitations issues.