Personal Injury Claim? The Clock is Running!
Have you have been injured by another person and want to know how long you have to file a legal claim in North Dakota? To answer that question, let’s take a look at our statutes of limitations.
A statute of limitations is the time period in which you have the right to file a lawsuit against an individual or company to recover compensation for damages and losses. If the deadline has passed, that right may be lost forever. Typically, the statute of limitations “clock” starts ticking at the time of the incident or event. This is usually when the accident or injury occurs.
Sometimes, however, like in certain cases of medical malpractice, the deadline might be “tolled.” This means if, for example, you don’t discover your surgery went wrong until one year later, the statute of limitations will begin at that one-year mark instead.
Standard statutes of limitations in ND
In North Dakota, the amount of time varies by the type of injury case:
- You generally have six years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury case in civil court.
- For wrongful death cases, the family or representative of a deceased person whose death was the result of alleged negligence has only two years to bring a wrongful death
- North Dakota allows two years to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor or hospital. The two-year period starts when the patient discovers the injury, or should reasonably have discovered the injury and the health care provider’s alleged negligence. The statute of limitations shall not be extended beyond six years unless fraudulent conduct by a doctor or hospital prevents the discovery of the injury.
- Product liability claims can vary. Under the law, you generally must file your claim within 10 years of the purchase of the product, or within 11 years of the date the product was manufactured. That timeframe is reduced to six years for claims involving asbestos.
Special rules apply to cases involving government agencies
The statute of limitation is three years to file a case against the State of North Dakota or a governmental agency; however, a notice of claim must be filed within 180 days of the incident, or your claim will be lost. This applies to all state universities, claims against the Highway Department, injury claims at the North Dakota State Fair, and so forth.
These periods outlined in the statutes of limitations may sound like a long time, but lawsuits take time to investigate and develop. You have to move quickly if you hope to recover fair compensation. Waiting to move on your claim could mean evidence has been lost and it could seriously hurt your chances for success.
It is smart to begin the legal process right away after an accident, as even simple lawsuits require extensive proof, including discovery, where all parties involved exchange information and evidence regarding the accident or incident. The supporting evidence must be gathered and preserved so that no critical piece of data is lost or destroyed.
Eyewitness statements are another important form of evidence, and the earlier witness statements are taken, the better it could be for you. The memories of the accident will still be fresh. After a car accident or other injury, write down everything you remember, as it is natural for those memories to fade over time.
An independent accident investigator may need to look at the vehicles that were involved in an accident to determine what actually occurred and which person was at fault. The accident scene itself could also be extremely important to the outcome of a case.
Protecting your case after an accident
After an injury, whether in a truck accident, on the job, or anywhere else, it’s crucial to take steps to protect both your health and your potential legal claim. The critical steps to take after an injury or accident include the following:
- Seek medical treatment immediately, whether or not you feel seriously injured.
- Follow all prescribed medical treatment as ordered by your doctor. Don’t skip any follow-up appointments. Failure to adhere to treatment could result in denial of benefits from the insurance company.
- Document any aspect of the accident that you can, including the accident report from police, medical reports, and other data. Keep the information in a safe, easy to find place.
- Collect the contact information from any witnesses, including their names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
- Contact a trusted law firm that has a track record of high value settlements and verdicts to assist you.
- Do not admit fault or engage in confrontational behavior with the responsible party. Exchange necessary information only and refer them to your attorney.
- Never sign a release with an insurance company that has made a settlement offer until your lawyer reviews the offer. It is likely far lower than it should be – do not become a victim of this practice.
Because North Dakota works with a variety of statutes of limitation, it’s wise to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Your lawyer can let you know which deadline applies to your particular claim, and get started on your case immediately, helping collect evidence and build the strongest case possible.
Don’t delay. Talk to the Minot attorneys at Larson Law Firm, PC today. We know how to fight for what’s right, and secure the compensation to which you’re entitled for your injuries and losses. To schedule a free consultation, call our offices today or fill out our contact form. We’re based in Minot but have additional offices in Fargo and Bismarck.