Whether you’ve been injured in an automobile collision, bicycle accident, workplace incident, slip and fall, or other situation, your first priority is treating your injuries. But after immediate treatment, many injuries linger for days, weeks, or years. If you’re still getting medical care, chiropractic treatment, or therapy, you may be hesitant to begin legal action to recover for your injuries. However, many claims have time limits called statutes of limitations. These periods are set by law, and when they expire, you may lose your right to recover from the individuals or companies responsible for your injuries.
How long do I have to make a claim for my injuries?
How long you have to file a claim or lawsuit depends on the nature of the injury and who you intend to initiate legal action against. For most personal injuries in the State of New Jersey, you must file suit no more than two years from the date of the incident that caused your injury. In order to timely file a workers' compensation claim, an employee must submit a petition to the Department of Labor within two years of the date of injury. If you intend to bring legal action against a city, township, or other municipal entity, those time periods may be significantly shorter. For instance, some claims against public transportation entities must be filed in as little as 30-60 days. You must consult an experienced New Jersey attorney to evaluate what the time limitations are for your injuries and in your location.
What if I’m not sure how significant my injuries are?
Especially in situations where time limits are very short, such as claims against municipal entities, filing a claim or lawsuit can help protect your right to recover. It is easy to dismiss a suit if you ultimately decide not to pursue a claim, but it is almost never possible to recover if the statute of limitations has expired.
Often, people will still be undergoing treatment for severe or lingering injuries when a lawsuit is filed. Litigation can take a long time – months or even years – and many plaintiffs complete treatment before their case is resolved for a settlement amount or verdict. Expert witnesses can testify to the value of a plaintiff’s injuries and loss of functionality, even in cases where treatment is not complete before settlement or trial.
What should I do to preserve my rights?
Talk with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney as soon as possible to make sure you understand the options and deadlines that apply to your circumstances. Once you’ve done that, as you continue to undergo treatment,
- Be diligent about your continuing care plan (including at-home exercises and follow-up appointments). Take all prescribed medications according to your doctor’s recommendations.
- Keep a journal. Write down your recollections of the initial injury and occurrence as well as your progress with your recovery and care program. Your notes should include descriptions of how you feel both physically and mentally, progress logs of your care or treatment plan, and observations of things you are unable to or restricted from doing because of your injury or treatment.
- Be attentive to your social media. Everything that you post on the Internet in any channel (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) will be considered in litigation, so make sure that how you are portrayed by your own and other people’s posts is intentional, accurate, and not misleading.
- Record your missed work. Keep track of every hour or day you miss work because of doctor’s visits or other medical treatment or because of incapacity or injury restrictions. Make sure you include specific missed opportunities (e.g., if you are a freelancer or contract employee and have to turn down work). If it’s possible to obtain written documentation of your missed time and the resulting lost wages from your employer, do so.
- If you’re attending school, keep track of any hours you miss or classes marked “incomplete,” along with any consequences you suffer (for example, not being able to advance with the rest of your class or enter a scheduled program on time) and any expenses you incur as a result.
- Keep a complete and thorough list of all out-of-pocket expenses you incur as a result of your injury, with receipts where possible. Include everything related to medical visits or therapy (co-pays; tolls and mileage; babysitting services), necessary medical equipment (exercise bands; braces; crutches), assistive devices (shower rails; accessible ramps or stair lifts), and the cost of hiring homecare (medical or personal assistants; yard maintenance).
Personal injuries can disrupt your entire life, but don’t wait until it’s too late to consult with an attorney. Knowing how to best protect your rights can help you recover what you deserve. To schedule an appointment with one of our New Jersey car accident lawyers or other experienced personal injury attorneys at the Basking Ridge, Oradell, or Newark, New Jersey, law offices of the Mark Law Firm, contact the firm online, or call 973-440-2311, 908-626-1001, or 201-787-9406 today.