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Statute of Limitation: A Time Limit on Your Case

Posted on in Car Accidents

Wisonsin personal injury attorney, Wisonsin car crash lawyer, the legal process, civil lawsuitsFiling a lawsuit quickly after a traffic accident occurs is important because the sooner the process starts, the sooner the victim can be compensated for his or her medical bills and other injuries. However, there is another important reason to file a lawsuit quickly: the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a time limit that the law puts on filing a case. Wait too long and a victim's opportunity to recover damages for the harm that he or she suffered can vanish. While this may seem like a harsh rule, there are good reasons for it to be in place, and it is important for people injured in accidents to understand these statutes.

The Statute of Limitations in Wisconsin

Statutes of limitations are time limits that vary depending on the type of case. A suit for breach of contract may have a different time limit that a suit for medical malpractice. Under Wisconsin law the statute of limitations in a personal injury case, the type of case arising from a traffic accident, is three years. This means that people have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit over it.

There are also separate rules for minors injured in a traffic accident. If a person is under the age of 18 when the accident occurs, then he or she has two years after turning 18 to file a lawsuit. A similar rule applies to people who are unable to file a lawsuit because of a mental illness.

Why Have a Statute of Limitations

On a first pass, the statute of limitations seems like a harsh rule. A victim suffered injuries regardless of whether he or she files a lawsuit two years after the fact or four years after the fact, and he or she deserves to recover for the harm inflicted by another person's careless driving. However, there are two good reasons for these sorts to time limits to exist.

The first reason is a nod towards practicality. Courts are ultimately about reconstructing what happened during some event, using evidence to get to the truth. The evidence that courts use gets worse and worse as time passes. The bigger the time gap between the accident and the lawsuit, the bigger the chance of important documents going missing and the worse witnesses' recollections get.

The second reason is more philosophical, and based in the rights of the defendant. While careless people should be made to take responsibility for the damage they do, they still have rights. Without a statute of limitations, the threat of a lawsuit could hang over people's heads for decades. It does not make sense to suddenly make a 70-year-old answer for something he or she did as a teenager, when that same lawsuit could have been brought 50 years earlier.

The statute of limitations is an important consideration for anyone who has been involved in a car accident. If you have recently been injured, contact an experienced Milwaukee traffic accident attorney today before your time runs out.
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