Pedestrians are injured or killed in traffic accidents at an alarming rate. Drivers can be held accountable for pedestrian accidents when their negligence causes a pedestrian’s injuries or death.
While pedestrian accident lawyers are able to settle many claims without filing a lawsuit, a statute of limitations bars claims for compensation if too much time passes before a lawsuit is filed. The “limitations period” is the period after the accident during which a lawsuit can be filed. If the limitations period expires, the accident victim loses the right to force the negligent driver to pay compensation.
Each state sets its own limitations period. Different limitations periods may apply to different kinds of legal claims. In different states, the circumstances surrounding a pedestrian accident may affect the limitations period. To assure that a pedestrian’s opportunity to receive compensation is protected, it is essential to contact a pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident occurs.
Basic Statute of Limitations for Pedestrian Accidents
When a pedestrian accident is caused by a negligent driver, the statute of limitations varies from state to sate, a usually time period permits a lawsuit to be filed within 2 years after the accident date. Some exceptions to that limitations period are discussed below.
The same limitations period applies whether the accident was caused by the operator of a passenger car, a truck, a bus, a motorcycle, an Uber or Lyft vehicle, or a scooter.
Statute of Limitations for Pedestrian Accidents Caused by Government Employees
The limitations period may be different if the accident was caused by a government employee while the employee was on duty or performing his or her employment. Lawsuits against a government agency (or agency employee) must be filed within one year after the accident.
Lawsuits against a state or a city or town might have different statutes of limitations, but a “notice of claim” might need to be served before the suit can be filed. A notice of claim must be served upon the state within a specific amount of time and against a municipality could be a different time period after the accident date. A pedestrian accident lawyer can help victims prepare and serve an appropriate notice of claim.
Statute of Limitations for Minors Injured in Pedestrian Accidents
In some states, the limitations period does not begin to run until the accident victim reaches the age of 18. If the injured pedestrian was a child or a teen who has not reached the age of 18, a lawsuit can be filed at any time before the victim reaches the age of 20.
When accident victims are deemed incompetent because of a mental disability, the limitations period does not begin to run until the disability ends. As a practical matter, if the disability is likely to be permanent, a lawyer will usually arrange for a guardian to bring the claim on the victim’s behalf.
Extending the Statute of Limitations for Victims of Pedestrian Accidents
The limitation period can be tolled (or paused) if the negligent act that caused the accident was also a crime. Running a red light, speeding, and reckless driving are examples of crimes that toll the limitations period.
When a negligent driver caused the accident by committing a traffic crime, the two-year limitations period does not start until after a criminal charge is resolved. However, the limitations period will not be tolled for more than six years. If no criminal charges are filed, the limitations period does not start to run until six years after the accident date.
Determining the deadline for filing a lawsuit will help pedestrian accident victims protect their right to receive compensation. A pedestrian accident lawyer is in the best position to make that determination.
Thank you to Butler Law Firm for their insight into pedestrian accidents and statutes of limitations.