Indiana, like every other state, has a civil statute of limitations. You generally have two years from your accident’s date to file your lawsuit, per IC § 34-11-2-4. This deadline applies to motor vehicle accidents, on-the-job injuries, and wrongful death cases.
You also have two years to file your product liability lawsuit, according to IC § 34-20-3-1. Here, your filing deadline begins from the date you suffered harm or discovered your injuries.
What Makes Indiana’s Statute of Limitations Important?
Indiana’s statute of limitations ensures that civil cases proceed in a timely manner. This keeps lawsuits from building up and impeding due process.
Indiana’s statute of limitations is also important because if you don’t file your case within the two-year period, the courts will dismiss your case with prejudice. This means:
- You won’t be able to file your case with the court system again.
- The at-fault party won’t have to pay for your losses.
- The insurance company may contest your claim–leaving you with few legal options.
- You might have to shoulder the cost of your injury-related losses alone.
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Certain Exceptions May Extend Your Filing Deadline
You may have longer than two years to file your civil case if:
- You were hurt as a minor. Here, you would have additional time from your 18th birthday to file your lawsuit.
- The at-fault party concealed their identity. When collisions happen, both motorists must share their contact information, per IC § 9-26-1-1.2. If a motorist fails to stop at the accident scene, gives the wrong information, or flees the state, this tolls the statute of limitations.
- A disability prevented you from filing. If you suffered a serious car accident and lapsed into a coma, you may qualify for an extension.
- You didn’t discover your injuries until a later date. Indiana abides by something called the “discovery rule.” In the car accident example, maybe you felt fine at the accident scene. Then, weeks later, you experienced symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. Here, your statutory deadline should start at the date you discovered your impairment.
One or more of these factors may apply to your situation. However, you shouldn’t make any assumptions about your filing deadline. Even missing the deadline by a day could invalidate your case.
How Indiana’s Civil Statute of Limitations Impacts Your Case
While considering legal action, here are some things you should know about your case’s filing deadline:
Your Filing Deadline Generally Starts from the Date of Your Accident
Suppose that your car accident happened on June 1, 2020. Here, you would have until June 1, 2022, to file your case. Matters change slightly if you lost a loved one. Your wrongful death lawsuit’s deadline would start from the date of their passing.
The Statute of Limitations Applies to Lawsuits – Not Claims
Claims and lawsuits are not the same things. You file a claim with the liable insurance company, and you file a lawsuit with the civil court system. Each insurance company has its own deadline regarding how long you have to file a claim.
Most insurance companies want to know about accidents as soon as they happen. Waiting too long to file your claim could complicate matters.
You Need Evidence to Support Your Lawsuit
Each successful lawsuit is founded on evidence. If you file your case within the two-year period, but you don’t have supporting evidence, the courts could dismiss it. This can delay the legal process and prevent you from getting compensation.
If the court dismisses your lawsuit with prejudice, this would keep you from filing it again.
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Indiana’s Statute of Limitations Isn’t Your Case’s Only Time-Sensitive Aspect
While you generally have two years to file your civil lawsuit, you don’t have two years to gather evidence. For instance, suppose you need witness testimony to support your case. Do you think witnesses will remember certain details two years down the road?
Other things to consider include:
- Camera recordings won’t remain available forever. They’ll either get automatically deleted or overwritten with new data.
- Physical evidence is extremely helpful. For instance, suppose you fell on another party’s property because of a chronically leaking roof. Immediately after the accident, you can secure photos of the hazard. Yet, years later, the hazard might have been fixed. The property owner might dispute that the hazard existed at all.
- Many modern-day vehicles come with “black boxes.” These devices measure the force of impact, speed, and other factors in collisions. Like security cameras, black box data doesn’t last forever. It generally lasts three to four weeks before it gets automatically deleted.
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How Can I File a Lawsuit Before the Statutory Deadline Expires?
Filing a lawsuit is more than filling out and submitting paperwork. It involves gathering evidence, understanding the cost of your damages, and communicating with courtroom officials. As one can imagine, this can get complicated fast.
Many injured claimants who represent themselves get overwhelmed by these tasks. That’s where our law firm comes in. We help injured people file their lawsuits on time and secure the funds they need. While you focus on your health, we’ll manage your case’s legal matters from beginning to end.
Our Law Firm is Ready to Start Championing Your Rights Today
If you or a loved one suffered harm due to negligence, we don’t want you to worry about Indiana’s statute of limitations. We will handle everything your case requires, from gathering evidence to pursuing a lawsuit.
- Determine who caused your accident
- Calculate your losses
- Attempt to settle your case through insurance negotiations
- Consult with field experts
- Interview witnesses
- Pursue what you’re owed
- Keep you updated on your case’s progression
We also work on contingency, so you don’t pay anything out of pocket for our help. We take a percentage of your settlement or court award as payment.
Begin Your Free Case Review with Sevenish Law Firm, P.C.
Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. advocates for injured claimants in Indiana, and our personal injury team is ready to break ground on your case today. To explore your options, dial (317) 720-3229.
Call or text 317-636-7777 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form