When citizens, businesses, organizations and other entities file lawsuits, they are generally bound by statutes of limitations. Though they don’t come into play often with areas like estate planning, you may still hear the term arise. At their most basic, statutes of limitations outline the “time limits” the law imposes when prosecutors seek to file criminal charges or anyone seeks to file a lawsuit. While not all legal claims are subject to time-related restrictions, most crimes, personal injury harms, contractual breaches, workers’ compensation claims, intellectual property violations, and estate-related challenges are subject to time-related boundaries and conditions.
Statutes of Limitations: The Basics
The event that triggers the start of a period governed by a statute of limitations may be when harm occurs or when harm is discovered. The trigger event depends on the situation and the statute in question. For example, a statute of limitations that governs when a plaintiff can file a claim against his or her landlord for a slip-and-fall injury is likely to be constructed in such a way that the claim filing period begins as soon as the fall occurs. By contrast, the period that a spouse may request an annulment due to fraud may begin as soon as the fraud is discovered. An attorney will be able to clarify how this kind of legal restriction may impact any claims you are thinking about filing.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about whether a specific legal situation may be governed by a statute of limitations, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney at your earliest possible convenience. It is important to act quickly if you have questions, as some statutes of limitations impose startlingly brief filing periods. In addition, each state’s laws differ, so it is important not to assume that simply because someone you know was able to file within a certain period of time that you will be granted a filing period of similar length.
Unfortunately, some of the most sensitive and intimidating legal challenges that Americans face are governed by statutes of limitations. Too often, individuals who should be able to seek justice for harms that have occurred to them are left out of the justice system’s protections because they wait too long to seek an attorney’s guidance.
If you are struggling to process a legal issue, you are not alone. Many people need time to wrap their heads around the harm they have suffered. But it is important to reach out to an attorney as soon as you possibly can in order to preserve all legal options that may be available to you. You may even discover that working with an attorney to right wrongs that have occurred may help you to process your struggle. And because speaking with a Washington D.C. personal injury attorney does not obligate you to take any legal action, there is no risk in asking questions. If you may have reason to file a lawsuit, please consider scheduling a consultation today. Doing so will help to ensure that whatever decision you ultimately make about your situation is an informed one.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C., for their insight into estate planning.