The Maine statute of limitations on personal injury claims and lawsuits, compared to other states in the US, is often described as generous. That’s because it is, in most instances. The “statute of limitations,” which is the amount of time a person has to file a personal injury claim against those responsible for their injuries, has a time limit of six years in Maine. There are a few exceptions, but for the majority of cases, the clock starts ticking from the time of the accident.
Though it may seem like six years is a long time, you should not delay taking action in pursuing a personal injury claim. If there are extenuating circumstances for a delay, you should take action as soon as you are able. If you do not file before the deadline, then in all likelihood, you will not be able to present your case to the court. Start by visiting a personal injury lawyer to go over what happened to determine what to do next.
Time delays are not that uncommon, especially for those who have sustained serious injuries, such as those from a car accident. Not just days and weeks can slip by, but recovery could take months, depending on the injury. The opportunity to meet with a personal injury lawyer can be impacted by ongoing medical care, therapy, and doctor’s appointments. Others delay treatment after an injury because they don’t believe their injury is that serious. It may take six or seven months before seeing a doctor about that nagging, persistent back pain that started after the accident.
Even if there have been delays and time has passed since your injury occurred, it is not too late to consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to help you. It may be that you are well insured, but even the best insurance is not going to pay all your bills and provide you with the compensation you deserve. Your insurance is not going to pay you for your time—the time and wages lost at work, the time it takes to get over the emotional trauma of the accident, the time it takes to bring your car to the shop, or the time it takes to shop for a new one, and so on.
Exceptions to the Six-Year Rule
The six-year time limit for filing a personal injury claim pertains to those injuries caused by a private party, which is for the majority of claims. Otherwise, there are a few exceptions to the six-year rule to consider:
Any personal injury claims against federal, state, or local government agencies or employees have their own specific time restraints. Though restrictive and limited to particular circumstances, the law does allow private citizens to sue local and state government entities and officials. However, you have less time to file a claim against a government agency or government employee. The initial claim must be filed within 180 days after the accident, and then, if the claim cannot be resolved, you have two years to file a lawsuit.
If your injury occurred on federal property, such as a national park or while visiting a national landmark, or was caused by a federal employee or agent while they were on the job, the law permits you to file a personal injury claim in federal court based upon the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
Personal injury claims against health care providers have a three-year statute of limitation from the date of the action or procedure that caused the injury. There are exceptions that fall under the legal concept of “tolling,” which adjusts the time limit to the date when the personal injury was discovered. For example, a foreign object like a sponge left in the body after surgery only discovered months later or cases of ongoing malpractice and repeated misdiagnosis that delayed treatment of a health problem. The three-year clock on the medical malpractice lawsuit would be “tolled” or begin from the date of discovery.
Tolling in personal injury claims also applies to minors. Personal injury claims for minors must be filed within six years after the date of the injury or within three years after the minor turns 18.
If you are injured while skiing or hang gliding or using the tramway associated with the act of skiing or hang gliding, the Maine ski law statute of limitations is also 2 years.
If your injuries resulted from an intentional act such as assault, false imprisonment, or battery, there is a two-year time limit to file a personal injury claim.
Hardy, Wolf & Downing Can Help
Maine’s statute of limitations on personal injury claims is one of the most liberal in the country. Nonetheless, if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you owe it to yourself and your family to consult a car accident lawyer to discuss your case. The sooner, the better, for there are deadlines. For more information on Maine’s statute of limitations relating to personal injury claims, contact Hardy, Wolf & Downing today for a free initial consultation.