What is the Statute of Limitations for Accident Lawsuits in Utah?
If you were injured in an accident, you can often take the responsible parties to court. However, you may only have a limited time to do so. These legal time limits are known as “statutes of limitation,” and are usually written into law in each state. In most accidents across the country, you have two years to file your personal injury case – but every state has different laws that may apply in different situations.
Salt Lake City personal injury lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC represents injured accident victims in their case against those who allowed their injury to happen. For a free consultation on your car accident, slip and fall, workplace accident, or other personal injury case, call our offices today.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accident and Other Injuries
If you were injured in an accident, you may only have a limited time to file your claim. Note that these statutes of limitations tell you when you need to file your case. Once your case is filed, it may take more time to continue filing motions, presenting evidence, and actually going to trial – but those events are not subject to these deadlines.
For most injuries in Utah, you have four years to file your case. Most injuries do not have specific statutes of limitations devoted to them, and instead fall under Utah Code § 78B-2-307(3). This statute ensures that you have four years from the date of injury to file your case. This covers most personal injury cases, including:
- Car accident injuries
- Slip and fall injuries
- Bicycle accident injuries
- Truck accident injuries
- Construction accidents
- Stairway collapses
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Brain injuries
- Spinal injuries
- And other injuries
However, there are three specific cases where the law sets a shorter time limit. If you wish to sue for the death of a loved one in an accident, you must file the case within two years. This is set under the Utah Code § 78B-2-304(2), pertaining to “wrongful death” lawsuits. The second lowered limit is for medical malpractice cases in Utah. In those lawsuits, you can only sue within two years of the injury under § 78B-3-404(1). Finally, the statute of limitations in Utah product injury cases is shorter. Utah Code § 78B-6-706 says these cases must be filed within two years of the injury.
Statute of Limitations Exceptions in Utah
The statute of limitations is not always a hard rule. In some situations, you may be able to avoid the strict deadlines and extend your ability to file a lawsuit. In Utah, the clock starts running from the time that you are injured. In some cases, the time the clock starts may be pushed back.
The typical legal principal that extends your statute of limitations is called the “Discovery Rule.” In cases where the cause of your injury cannot be discovered, you may be able to pause the clock until you discover the injury and its cause. One common example of this is in medical malpractice cases where an object is left inside you after surgery. In this case, you may feel pain, but may not know why until you seek a second opinion and have an X-Ray.
There may also be ways to “toll” the statute of limitations, again placing the time limit on pause. In Utah, the two main ways to toll a statute of limitations are through mental illness or being underaged. If someone is mentally challenged and cannot understand their case, they may place the time limit clock on pause until they are free of their mental condition. For many people, this may never happen, but they would be able to extend the statute of limitations. The same rules apply for someone under the age of 18. If you or your child was injured when you were under 18, the time limit will not begin to run until you turn 18. Both of these situations are legally referred to as “incompetence.” However, a parent or guardian may be able to bring a suit on behalf of the minor or mentally incompetent individual, ignoring the benefit of “tolling” the statute of limitations.
Purpose of Time Limits to File Cases in Utah
Statutes of limitations exist for a good reason. As time moves on, our memories of accidents and injuries fade. While scars and permanent injuries may remain, our memory of specific events and details fades. Additionally, evidence may be lost to time. Statutes of limitations work to shut down cases with old evidence or bad memories of the injury. Make sure to file your case as soon as you can to prevent the statute of limitations from barring your claim.
Personal Injury Attorney in Salt Lake City
Darwin Overson, personal injury attorney of the law firm Overson Law, PLLC, may be able to help you with your accident case. Make sure to talk to an attorney as soon as you can, to avoid the effects of strict statutes of limitations. For a free, no obligations consultation on your case, call (801) 895-3143 today.