How Long After an Accident Can You Sue in New Orleans?
In Louisiana, a vehicle accident case must be filed within a year of the accident’s date of occurrence. If hurt in a car accident, the injured party might be entitled to financial compensation for their losses. The claim must be filed with the proper court before the statute of limitations runs out. If not filed within the time assigned by the statute of limitations, a driver risks losing the ability to seek damages for their injuries.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is any law that prohibits lawsuits after a specified amount of time has passed since the accident. Depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the claim, the time frame varies from state to state and depends on the claim.
Both civil and criminal causes of action have statutes of limitations that start the day the injury occurred, the date the injury was made aware, or the date it would have been discovered by a reasonable person. While some statutes of limitations are derived from judicial common law, many of them are actual legislative statutes.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Louisiana
The statute of limitations is one year for cases involving fatal auto accidents. More commonly known as wrongful death claims. The surviving family members of the deceased victim have one year from the date of their passing to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in court. Failure to bring a wrongful death claim within this window may prevent you from holding the drivers responsible for the collision. Note: The time frame is one year from the date of death and not the date of the accident in this situation.
Exemptions to Statute of Limitations in Louisiana
If attempting to file a lawsuit after missing this deadline, the defendant may ask the claim be dismissed. The court will probably allow the request unless the situation falls into an exception.
The statute of limitations doesn’t start running when a minor sustains injuries in an accident until they turn 18. Regardless of the child’s age at the time of the accident, the claim may be made up until one year after the child turns eighteen.
There may be multiple parties at blame in certain personal injury claims, such as those involving multiple-car pileups. If there are many defendants, a plaintiff can only file a lawsuit against one of them within the allotted year. If both defendants are accountable jointly, a plaintiff may successfully sue a second party after the one-year window has passed.
The statute of limitations in Louisiana does not begin running if an injury was caused by a faulty product, such as a badly built car part, unless knowledge of the actual cause of the damage should be reasonably discoverable.
The discovery rule may also be used when a party is ignorant of an injury-causing event that has already occurred. For instance, a person who experiences respiratory distress or organ damage as a result of exposure to a harmful chemical might not be immediately aware. The one-year statute of limitations in this situation doesn’t start running until the root of the person’s ailments has been determined.
Statute of Limitations for Out-of-State Drivers
Regardless of where the drivers are from, if the claim is being brought in Louisiana, then the drivers are required to follow the state’s laws. Therefore, out-of-state drivers are required to bring a claim or be involved in a claim that fits within the one-year time frame.
Though, there are exemptions for out-of-state drivers in other areas of law in Louisiana. A “No Pay, No Play” rule was passed in Louisiana, prohibiting uninsured drivers from claiming a set amount of damages from the negligence of another vehicle. The “No Pay, No Play” law has a few exceptions, such as claims made by non-owner passengers involved in the crash. There are also exceptions for cars hit while legally parked and out-of-state drivers from states that do not require liability insurance at the time the crash occurred.
When Does Statute of Limitations Not Apply
The statute of limitations applies only to lawsuits. This does not apply to insurance claims filed with the insurance company. Therefore, unless provided by the insurance companies, there are no state laws that require drivers to bring a claim within a certain amount of time. However, this does not include directed actions. Directed actions still need to be filed within one year.
According to the Louisiana Direct Action Statute, if the policy was issued in Louisiana, and the accident or injury happened in Louisiana, the plaintiff may file a direct action against the defendant’s insurance company. The insured, negligent party may also be sued solely by the plaintiff if the insured is insolvent, bankrupt, deceased, and uninsured or underinsured.
It is crucial for injury victims to keep in mind that insurance carriers do have their own reporting deadlines, though they are not called statute of limitations. Failing to file a claim with an insurance carrier soon after the incident occurs could result in a delay or denial of the claim. Many insurance carriers require that a claim be made within a day or two after the incident occurs. Individuals should check their insurance policies to ensure they file a claim within the specified timeframe.
Statute of Limitations Facts and Statistics
According to state statutes, there are only three states with a statute of limitations of one year for personal injury claims. Twenty-one states have a statute of limitations of 2 years for personal injury claims, 18 states require three years to bring a personal injury claim, five states limitations are four years, one state with five years, and two states have a six-year limitation.
Most states have different statutes of limitations for bringing a claim that involves property damage. Louisiana is one of few that still has the strict one-year statute for bringing a property damage claim. Therefore, if someone brings a claim for property damage and injury, it will follow the same timeline.
If you have been involved in a car accident in New Orleans, please contact the Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC online, or call our office at (504) 294-5094.