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What Happens If The Statute Of Limitations Runs Out?


If you’re pursuing a personal injury lawsuit in New Hampshire, you might have heard about the statute of limitations. More specifically, you might have heard that this law can prevent you from pursuing legal action if you wait too long. All of this is true, but what exactly happens in the worst-case scenario? What happens if the statute of limitations elapses and you can no longer file your personal injury claim?

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney in New Hampshire who can evaluate whether you fall within any exception which might allow you additional time. You never know until you actually meet with a lawyer, so it’s best to book your consultation and discuss your specific circumstances.

What is the Statute of Limitations? 

The statute of limitations states that you cannot pursue legal action after a certain amount of time has passed. There are slightly different statutes of limitation for different cases – both civil and criminal. In the case of a straightforward personal injury lawsuit, the statute of limitations in New Hampshire is three years.  There are times where this is shorter or longer. For example, your time limit to file the appropriate claim notice with the federal government for injuries (such as for a fall at the post office or a collision with a military vehicle) is only 2 years, after which a lawsuit will be barred.

What Happens if the Statute of Limitations Expires? 

If you allow the statute of limitations to expire, you are no longer allowed to file an injury claim. This means that you lose the ability to recover compensation. This is why it’s so important to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible after you have suffered your injuries.

Exceptions to the Rule 

With all that being said, there are a few situations in which it may be possible to sue even though the statute of limitations has technically expired. One of the key things to remember about the statute of limitations is that the clock only really starts ticking when you become aware of your injuries. Although this might seem like a relatively minor distinction, it can have a considerable effect on cases. The classic example is that you have a surgery, and all seems to have gone well. Many years later you start having pain near the surgery site and testing shows that a scalpel was left in your body. Unless there was a reason to know this earlier, this would “toll” the statute of limitations until the discovery of the malpractice.

Another exception is if you are a minor or mentally incompetent. Pursuant to RSA 508:8, “An infant or mentally incompetent person may bring a personal action within 2 years after such disability is removed.” One could use this law to argue, for example, that a coma victim is allowed two years from the date they regain consciousness and mental capacity. However, in many cases it does not make sense to wait this long, and a family member, friend, or someone else could be appointed guardian with the authority to proceed on behalf of the incapacitated adult.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today 

For help recovering compensation, reach out to the Manchester personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning Zimmerman & Oliveira PLLC. We know that things can seem hopeless for injured victims, especially if you’re not sure whether or not the statute of limitations has expired. Internet research only gets you so far, and you can’t trust everything you read. In certain situations, you may be able to pursue legal action after the statute has expired, so book your consultation today to discuss your options.

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