It is common knowledge that a statute of limitations—or the time frame during which a lawsuit may be filed—applies to personal injury cases and all other lawsuits. It is not well known, however, that there is a second timing issue that comes into play in some types of injuries. Specifically, there is something referred to as a statute of repose that also affects the timing of a personal injury lawsuit. State law governs both statutes of limitations and statutes of repose. It is important for Nevada victims of negligence to understand how these two concepts are similar and different in order to avoid negatively affecting your case.
What is a Statute of Limitation?
The statute of limitations sets a time limit during which you must file a claim in court or your case will be forever barred. In Nevada and most other states across the nation, this time period begins from the date when an injury happens or—alternatively—from the date the act that caused the injury was committed (those usually occur at the same time). In many cases, the clock starts ticking from the date when an injury is first recognized.
What is a Statute of Repose?
A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations. They differ, however, in that a statute of repose begins to expire on a specific date and is not subject to tolling of a later discovery of an injury. In other words, a statute of repose begins on the date when the incident occurred and not at a later date when the injury was first discovered.
For example, suppose that a doctor performs surgery and leaves a foreign object in the patient's body. The day of the surgery is the day the injury occurs, but the patient likely will not know about it until she experiences adverse effects, sees a doctor, goes through one or more tests, and then discovers that something was left inside her body. She has one year from when she discovers the problem to file a lawsuit (statute of limitations), but she has three years from when the surgery occurs (statute of repose), whichever is earlier. That means that if she does not discover the problem until more than three years after the surgery, she cannot ever file a lawsuit against the doctor for medical negligence.
Why This Matters
Statutes of limitations and repose can vary depending on the injury suffered. Moreover, the process required when filing a personal injury lawsuit can be complicated as can the dates within which a claim must be pursued in a Nevada court. While referred to as statute of limitations, there are actually different time frames depending on the type of lawsuit.
Professional malpractice: Within four years after the injury or within two years after discovery of the injury;
Medical malpractice: Within three years of the date of the act or omission causing the injury or within one year of the date the injury was or should have been discovered;
Personal injury or negligence: Within two years from the date of the incident or discovery of the injury;
Product liability: Within two years from the date of the incident or discovery of the injury;
Wrongful death: Within two years from the date of the incident or discovery of the injury.
Personal Injury Help in Nevada
If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence of another, after seeking appropriate medical care you should contact a Nevada personal injury attorney. Do not delay. Failure to file a claim within the statute of limitations or repose can have devastating results. For more information on this issue, or if you have any other questions regarding a Nevada personal injury, contact the skilled lawyers at Parry & Pfau today.