You can’t file a lawsuit whenever you want – the law only gives you a certain amount of time to file. That’s called the “statute of limitations.” Once it has ended, you no longer have the right to file a claim. Let’s take a look at the Indiana statute of limitations for personal injury cases.
How Does The Statute Of Limitations Work?
The statute of limitations starts the moment “a cause of action accrues.” That’s legal jargon for “the moment something happens that gives you the right to sue.” In some cases, that moment is easy to identify – the moment you got in a car crash, for example. In other cases, it’s a little trickier.
For example, imagine you’ve been exposed to a dangerous chemical at work for years but you didn’t get sick until after you retired. You couldn’t have known that you were going to get sick and you couldn’t have known that you would have the right to sue, but the actual event that caused your injury and gave you the right to sue may have happened decades ago. In that case, the statute of limitations starts running when you discover the injury or when it’s diagnosed by a medical professional. So, you’ll still be able to file a lawsuit even if the original cause of the injury happened much earlier.
Some types of claims have an additional time limit called a “statute of repose.” The statute of repose prevents all claims after a certain amount of time, regardless of when the injury was discovered. For example, if you discover an injury 11 years after the cause and there’s a 10-year statute of repose, you can’t file a claim even though you didn’t know about the injury before. That law is designed to protect defendants from facing potential liability forever.
The Indiana Statute Of Limitations
The Indiana statute of limitations for each type of claim applies to any claims you want to bring under Indiana law. Note that claims under federal law have their own statutes of limitations, which may differ from the state laws.
When you’re injured by the negligence or actions of another person or a business, the law gives you the right to claim compensation for your injuries. It may include medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses. That’s called a “personal injury” claim. In Indiana, you have the right to file a claim for up to 2 years after the date of that the injury occurred or the date that you discovered it, whichever is later. Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4.
Just like you can claim compensation for your injuries, you can also claim it for damage that another person caused to your property. You have 2 years from the date of the incident to file that claim. Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4.
We trust our doctors to take care of us, but sometimes they make mistakes or bad judgments. They’re legally obligated to treat you according to the industry’s standard of care, and you may be entitled to compensation if your doctor or other medical care provider fails to meet that standard. That’s called a “medical malpractice” case, and you have 2 years from the date you were injured or the date you discovered the injury to file it. Ind. Code § 34-18-7-1.
When another person or business’s negligence or dangerous behavior costs the life of your loved one, you may be able to claim compensation for the medical bills, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, lost future earnings of that loved one, and more through a “wrongful death” claim. Under Indiana law, you have 2 years to file a wrongful death claim. Ind. Code § 34-23-1-1.
You can file a products liability claim for compensation when you’re injured by product because of a design flaw, a manufacturing defect, toxic materials, inaccurate warning label, or other defect. In Indiana, you have 2 years from the date of your injury or the date you discovered your injury to file a products liability claim.
However, you can’t file a claim more than 10 years after you purchased the product – that’s the statute of repose. If you discover your injury more than 8 years after you purchase the product, you have the full 2 years from the date of discovery to file. For example, if you discover an injury 9 years after you purchase the product, you’ll be able to file a claim up to 11 years after purchase. Ind. Code § 34-20-3-1.
Exceptions To The Indiana Statute Of Limitations
There are a few important exceptions to the Indiana statute of limitations. First, if you’re injured while you’re a minor, the statute of limitations doesn’t start running until you turn 18. If you’re injured while you’re temporarily disabled (due to a period of mental illness, for example), the statute of limitations doesn’t start running until you’re healthy again.
If someone wants to file a claim against you, the statute of limitations may be put on hold while you’re out of state, out of contact, or incarcerated.
When Can You File A Claim?
All in all, figuring out whether you’re within the Indiana statute of limitations can be complicated. If it’s been more than 2 years since the date of the original cause of the injury, you can expect the other party to argue that the statute has “run” or “tolled” (ended) and you no longer have the right to file a claim. You’ll need the help of an experienced attorney to help you argue that you still have the right to file.
If you’ve been injured, you should consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible to learn about your legal options and about the appropriate statute of limitations. Even if you’re not certain that you want to file a lawsuit, an attorney can give you a deadline for making that decision. That way you can decide on your own time but you won’t lose the option.
Call or visit us today for a free case evaluation and consultation to learn about your legal options for pursuing compensation and about whether a lawsuit is the best choice for you.
Prior to forming Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz, Doug worked as a bodily injury claims adjuster for a large insurance company. This unique experience has been a tremendous asset to Doug in his fight to achieve maximum cash settlements for his clients in minimum time. Since departing from the insurance company, Doug has dedicated his entire legal career to helping injured clients when they need it the most.