What Is a statute of limitations?

A statute of limitations is the amount of time that a person has to file a lawsuit. This time restriction is a limit that the court imposes based on where the person lives who initiates the lawsuit. If the statute of limitations expires, the person can never bring a lawsuit against the other party regardless of the severity of their damages.

Civil and Criminal Cases

Civil as well as criminal cases may have a statute of limitations, depending on the crime or complaint. The statute of limitations that applies in a particular situation also depends on the laws of that state. For example, if a case is a medical malpractice case and the statute of limitations is two years in that state, the plaintiff has two years to start the lawsuit process or it’s barred forever. Statutes of limitations can vary by state but the only one that matters is the jurisdiction where the person brings the case.

Do all cases have the same statute of limitations?

Some types of cases have a short statute of limitations and others have no statute of limitations at all. In family law cases, a person may have as little as a few months to claim that the other parent violated a custody agreement. In many personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is a few years.

Criminal cases usually have longer time limitations than civil cases. Even for a misdemeanor case, the statute of limitations is usually several years. For very serious offenses such as homicide, most states don’t have any time limitation.

Why have a statute of limitations?

The passage of time may make it difficult to preserve a defense or mount a counterclaim. As the years pass, witnesses may become unavailable as they move away or die. Paperwork and critical information gets lost. Lawmakers say that after a certain period of time, it isn’t fair to make a person defend something that happened a long time ago. They say that when a person has a valid case, they should bring it promptly.

Discovery Rule

In some cases, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until a person knows or should know that they have a claim. If a person obviously knows that they have a case as soon as an event occurs, the statute of limitations begins the same day. An example of this is a person who suffers obvious injuries in a car crash. However, if it’s not something that the person discovers until later, their period to file a claim might not start until the discovery. Workplace illnesses or diseases may not present symptoms until years after the initial exposure. Mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, is a good example of this.

A Person Can File the Case on the Very Last Day

Once a person files their case in court before the deadline, they’ve met the requirements of the statute of limitations. That is, the other side can’t stall the case once it’s been filed in order to claim that too much time has passed. Rather, filing the case before the deadline makes it valid even if the case takes years to litigate. There are exceptions to this, and a good personal injury lawyer Phoenix AZ counts on can provide you with additional information specific to your case.

What are the options if the statute of limitations has passed?

If there’s any question about whether or not the statute of limitations has passed, the defendant can bring a motion to the court to address the issue. This is usually called a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary disposition. Then, it’s up to the judge to decide if the statute of limitations deadline has passed for the case. If it has, the case ends and it’s dismissed permanently.

Alex & Saavedra, P.C.Thanks to our friends and contributors from Alex & Saavedra, P.C. for their insight into personal injury practice.

Can Airbags Injure You in a Car Accident?

There has been an alarming increase in the number of auto accidents resulting in airbag injuries during the past decade. Sometimes the protection devices deploy without impact and are essentially the actual cause of the accident. The number of vehicle models that have been recalled due to this problem has also increased drastically in the past year after the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration began investigating the specific accidents. At issue are various Takata airbags that are now known to have been installed in a very wide variety of vehicle models for practically every car manufacturer.

This is not to mention the injuries that occur when airbags do release properly after being impacted by a vehicle. Airbags effectively explode when they engage, releasing fast and with considerable force. When the passenger is turned in a vulnerable position, the final result can be injuries to the face, arms, and neck area, potentially causing central nervous system problems that can prove catastrophic in some instances. However, pinpointing that an injury was caused by an airbag can be a difficult task without an experienced car accident lawyer Fort Collins, CO trusts investigating the entire material case evidence record.

External Injuries

Common external injuries resulting from an exploding airbag are usually to the upper torso, with many of those injuries being lacerations to the arms and facial area. While external injuries to the arms are often considered superficial, lacerations to the face can result in permanent scarring and potential surgical repair. In some instances, the parts of the body the airbag is designed to protect are actually the body parts that are injured.

The chance for upper body and facial injuries is more likely for drivers, while passengers tend to experience injuries to lower extremities as well because of airbag installation design. It is important to remember that the airbag is designed to protect the passengers, but an impacted automobile can also experienced damage that could also cause injuries when debris is dislodged inside the vehicle.

Internal Injuries

While external injuries are obvious, the same cannot be said of internal injuries that assuredly can happen from an airbag during a collision. The problem with internal injuries is that they are not always immediately recognized unless there is significant pain. Injuries such as a twisted back or whiplash around the neck around can easily manifest later. Even if an accident victim has no apparent external injuries, it is still best for the accident victim to seek treatment at an emergency facility. Internal organ damage is common, as well as separated shoulders or broken limbs, and internal problems can be very dangerous. Internal bleeding situations can worsen quickly, even resulting in a fatality, and time is of the essence even though the symptoms may appear minimal.

An experienced car accident lawyer would advise those with airbag injuries of any type to seek medical attention immediately following a crash. Timing is very important documentation when damages are being recovered in an auto accident case, especially when the injury is not apparent. Attorneys must connect the injury to the accident and use the case evidence regarding the deployment of the airbag configuration to establish cause and effect for the injured victim. Lapses in time can provide the respondent insurance provider an opening for an case issue that can be used to deny or lessen the value of an injury claim.

Cannon Hadfield Stienben, LLCThanks to our friends and contributors from Cannon Hadfield Stienben, LLC for their insight into car accident cases.

The World’s Largest Airbag Recall — Are You Affected?

Takata, one of the world’s largest airbag suppliers, is settling for $1 billion after pleading guilty to distributing defective and fatal airbags.  Even with a minor fender-bender, these airbags can explode and fire bits of shrapnel into the cabin.  These airbags have been the cause of at least 17 known deaths worldwide.  These airbags are incredibly dangerous, and what’s worse, is that millions of cars have had their airbags recalled, but many people don’t know!

Please look through this list to see if your model has been affected, or look up your VIN to see the specific recalls here: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/

 

 

 

Estate Planning – Protecting Your Assets

One of the issues that is often overlooked in the estate planning process is the protection of assets from third parties.  Most of the effort in estate planning is around making sure that the right heir gets the right asset at the right time.  What many of us do is forget to make sure that those assets are protected so that they are actually there when the time comes to pass them to the heirs. Let’s take a look at some of the basics around how to protect assets so that we actually have those assets to pass on.

How can Your Assets be Vulnerable?

One of the biggest ways that your assets could be vulnerable to a third party is through some sort of personal injury claim, as an estate planning attorney Leawood, KS trusts can explain.  These arise in two major circumstances for most employed persons:  First, someone comes onto your property and gets injured.  Let’s assume that you have a great Independence Day celebration planned.  Everyone is over and having a great time when someone falls off your deck and breaks their leg. Unfortunately, there are complications and the medical claims now exceed the limits from your homeowners’ policy.  Second, you are in a car accident where the other party is substantially injured.  Again, their injuries substantially exceed your automotive liability limits. They then look to you to make them whole for their injuries. This could include a lawsuit and them trying to attach any property that they can get their hands on.  

Trusts – Protective Clauses

One of the most common techniques to protect assets is a trust.  People have been using them for a long time to protect the assets of the grantor.  Of course, one of the biggest keys to having a trust that fully protects the assets is to have a trust that is irrevocable.  An irrevocable trust is one that cannot be changed by the Grantor after the trust is created.  What the Grantor does is to create the trust and then give (or sell) the assets into the trust.  Accordingly, the assets no longer belong to you (they belong to the trust) and would, therefore, not be available to satisfy any claim against you. You need to be sure that you do not keep any substantive control over the trust.

Trusts are also great vehicles to keep assets away from potential creditors of the beneficiaries of that same trust. If a beneficiary does not have access to the assets within the trust, and the language is property drafted, then the potential creditors cannot reach the assets that are within the trust.  These clauses, commonly called anti-alienation provisions, keep creditors away from the assets. So, trusts are typically drafted to have several protective measures so that the beneficiary does not have access, which will severely limit (if not eliminate) any creditor from going after those assets within the trust.  Some of the more common types of trusts that exist for asset protection purposes are support trusts, spendthrift trusts, blend trusts, and discretionary trusts.

Please note that there are claims that are able to pierce even the most bulletproof of trusts.  Those claims include such things as claims by a child for support payments, some federal or state claims, etc.

Conclusion

Estate planning is about more than setting up the basic documents. One thing to think about is protecting assets from creditors, or potential creditors. These creditors can include such things as claimants from a car accident or other personal injury claim.  There are certain trusts that can protect those assets from most of those claims.

This article was brought to you by The Eastman Law Firm.

Preexisting Conditions and Personal Injury Claims

An Overview on Pre-Existing Conditions and Personal Injury Claims

At any time on any given day, an accident can happen that could very well aggravate any pre-existing medical condition you may have. And when this happens, do you bring a personal injury lawsuit against whomever you believe is responsible? And, if so, what are your chances of a successful suit? Do you have a case at all if an accident aggravates your pre-existing medical condition?

Pre-existing Medical Conditions and Personal Injury Lawsuits

If a car accident or slip and fall incident aggravates a preexisting condition, you may be eligible to file a claim against the negligent party. However, keep in mind that your case can be complex when you’re going up against an insurance company. It’s best if you understand the personal injury claim process. It may also help to work with a personal injury attorney in order to improve your chances of a successful outcome.

Do You Have a Personal Injury Claim?

When you’re involved in an accident or some type of personal injury incident, you may experience injuries that can cause your pre-existing condition to flare up. You may also have a condition that has healed, but is re-injured due to a new accident. For both of these particular incidents, you may have the ability to file a personal injury claim. You certainly can’t receive compensation for injuries that existed before your accident, but you can receive compensation for injuries that have caused your other conditions to worsen.

What Happens After You File a Claim?

After you file for a personal injury claim following an accident, expect that the insurance company will fight your claim for compensation. You may be best served by consulting a lawyer like a personal injury lawyer Phoenix AZ trusts who will need to gain a comprehensive understanding of your pre-existing condition. Very likely you will need to provide him or her with a complete medical record that outlines your pre-existing conditions.

The insurance company may very likely refuse to pay you any compensation. Instead they may fight the claim saying that the accident did not have any impact on your pre-existing condition. They may also claim that your new injuries were caused by the pre-existing condition and not the incident itself.

How You Can Be Successful

There are a few things you can do to ensure a solid claim:

  1. Retain an experienced personal injury lawyer. They will know every tactic that the insurance company may use to fight your claim, so it’s best to anticipate their moves with the help of a personal injury attorney.
  2. Avoid signing any authorizations for the insurance company to access your medical records. The insurance company may ask for unrestricted access to your records. This may seem like a good idea in order for you to prove that you had the pre-existing condition, but the insurance company can also use that information to discredit your injury claim. Your attorney can guide your actions while protecting your best interests.
  3. Disclose your medical issues to your lawyer. It’s very important that you disclose all of your past and current medical issues to your lawyer. He or she may wish to enlist the expertise of a medical professional who can testify to your injuries and overall medical condition.

If you have concerns or questions about a personal injury claim, consider meeting with an attorney. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation for your first visit.

Alex & Saavedra, P.C. Thanks to our friends and contributors from Alex & Saavedra, P.C. for their insight into personal injury practice.