Attorney advertisements often (nearly always, in fact) urge injured victims to contact this firm or that attorney “right away” and caution them not to delay in seeking legal help. Some of these advertisements make it seem as if your legal rights will disappear if you do not take immediate action by calling the attorney or firm. However, in the aftermath of a car accident you undoubtedly have other questions on your mind:
- How long will I have to be in the hospital?
- When am I able to return to work?
- How will I be able to meet my bills and expenses?
These weighty concerns may make the task of retaining an attorney seem unimportant. Is there any truth to attorney advertisements that say you must “act now” in hiring an attorney?
Kansas’ Statute of Limitations
Recall that every state (including Kansas) has a statute of limitations which gives injury victims and certain length of time after an accident in which to file a claim for compensation. In Kansas, the statute of limitations that is applicable in personal injury cases such as car crashes is two years. In other words, Kansas law gives car crash injury victims two years from the date of their accident in which to file their lawsuit seeking compensation. This two-year period can pass by rather quickly: During this time, the injury victim (and/or his or her attorney) must investigate the cause of the crash and determine who is likely responsible for causing the crash, locate these individuals as well as helpful witnesses and evidence, consult with any expert witnesses, if necessary, and quantify and document his or her damages and losses. All this typically occurs before the victim even files his or her initial pleading.
In general, a victim who fails to file his or her lawsuit pleading within this two-year period is forever barred from filing a lawsuit based upon the injury crash. So, therefore, there is some reason for the urgency of advertisements that encourage victims to “act now.” The sooner you retain an attorney following your accident, the more likely it is that you will not run afoul of the statute of limitations.
What if the Statute of Limitations Has Passed?
Injury victims for whom the statute of limitations has passed may not be completely barred from bringing a lawsuit to recover compensation. However, they must act quickly in order to assert their rights. The two-year period typically begins to run on the date that the accident occurs. However, the two-year period does not begin to run if the victim does not have reason to know that he or she has actually been injured or has diligently tried to locate the at-fault party in order to serve him or her but has been unable to do so. So, for example, a party who is rendered unconscious and enters a coma following a car accident, or one who is told by doctors that he or she is “fine” but who later develops medical complications, will have the statute of limitations period begin when they either become aware they have been injured or from the date when a reasonable person in their situation would have known he or she was injured and may have had a claim for compensation.
It never hurts to review your situation with an experienced car accident lawyer. Kansas Car Accident Lawyer Michael R. Lawless will review the facts of your case and help you understand whether you may be able to bring a lawsuit for your car crash injuries, the statute of limitations notwithstanding. Call Michael R. Lawless today at (800) 734-3771 to discuss your case.