The statute of limitations for personal injury claim differs from state to state. In most states, the injured person has two, three, or four years to file most injury-related lawsuits. In both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the general statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three years.
However, different injury cases are treated differently. For example, many governmental entities require a notice or claim to be filed directly with the city, state, or county. Generally, those notice requirements all a much shorter time to act than the general state statute of limitations. In Massachusetts, claims against the Commonwealth are subject to the same three-year limitations period as personal injury claims against a private entity. However, local governmental units may have much tighter timelines. For example, the city of Boston requires a claim to be filed with the City Clerk. The time limit for filing that claim maybe 30 days or 2 years depending on the type of claim.
Similarly, certain injury-related claims that fall under a separate statute may have shorter limitations periods. One common example is medical malpractice. In Massachusetts, the base statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is the same as that for personal injury claims: three years. However, determining the date that a medical malpractice claim accrued maybe complicated, and additional limitations ensure that most claims are not filed more than seven years after the negligent incident, regardless of the date the claim accrued.
Of course, most people don’t know about limitations such as the local claim filing requirement in Boston that may dramatically reduce the general 3 year statute of limitations, and may be unsure how to calculate unusual issues such as the date a medical malpractice claim would be considered to have accrued. Thus, it is generally in your best interest to seek legal representation as soon as possible after an injury.
Additional Reasons to Act Quickly After an Injury
The first and most obvious reason to retain a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after you have suffered a serious injury is that you likely want the case to move forward as quickly as possible. The sooner your attorney gets to work gathering evidence and assembling a claim on your behalf, the sooner you are likely to reach a settlement or be prepared to try your case in court. If you are unable to work and have significant medical bills after an injury, you will likely have a powerful incentive to keep your claim moving forward so that you can recover the compensation you need to pay your medical bills, make up for lost wages, and otherwise provide for yourself.
There are also other, less obvious reasons it is advantageous to act quickly. For example, physical evidence may be lost or destroyed over time. While this may occur through a conscious effort on the part of the defendant to hide evidence in your favor, it may just as likely occur naturally with the passage of time. For example, if you were injured in a slip and fall on somebody else’s property, it is very likely that after two or three years, that person or business will have made repairs to the property. Even if the property has not been updated, normal wear and tear will have caused changes, and it may be difficult to demonstrate the condition of the property at the time of the injury.
Similarly, witness testimony often plays an important role in a negligence case. However, witness memories fade over time. If your attorney is able to contact and interview witnesses shortly after the event, those witnesses will have a much clearer and more detailed memory of the events, and this will allow your attorney to document what they witnessed in detail while their memories are fresh.
Talk to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney as Soon as Possible
The bottom line is that the passage of time is not your friend in a personal injury case. As time passes, you may lose out on claims because of notice or filing deadlines you were unaware of, may be unable to contact witnesses, may find those witnesses unable to clearly recall the incident, or may lose access to critical evidence. The sooner you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney like Kevin J Broderick, the better.
If you or a loved one is in need of a personal injury attorney in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, just call The Broderick Law Firm, LLC at 978-459-3085 or fill out this contact form to schedule a free consultation.