A Statute of Limitations is a law that prevents an injured person or a decedent’s estate from filing a claim once a certain period of time passes following an accident or event causing personal injury or wrongful death. In other words, it sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit in court.

How Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Know When to File a Claim?

If the injured person, or their estate chooses to sue, they need to file their lawsuit before the Statute of Limitations deadline. When that deadline can change depending on the state the claim is brought in and what type of claim it is. For example, in Massachusetts, actions for personal injuries must be brought within three years of the date the injury occurred or when the injured person knew or should have discovered the negligence that caused the injury. Massachusetts has a 3-year Statute of Limitations in wrongful death cases.

Personal Injury Law Deadlines in Filing Suit

What Happens if a Deadline – or Statutes of Limitations – is Not Met?

If someone tries to bring a lawsuit after the deadline, the defendant can ask the court to dismiss the action so that a lawsuit can never be brought. If the court finds that the suit was filed after the deadline, it is likely the court will dismiss the lawsuit.

Are these Deadlines the Same for a Minor in a Personal Injury Case?

In Massachusetts, Statutes of Limitations are tolled, or delayed, for minors. In other words, if a minor has a potential claim for personal injuries, the Statute of Limitations period does not begin to run until they reach the age of majority, which is 18. While anyone above the age of 18 would be confined to three years from the date of the injury, the minor would have three years from the date of their 18th birthday.

What is a Statute of Repose in a Massachusetts Personal Injury Claim?

A Statute of Repose is a law that bars claims after some action by the defendant. Statutes of Repose are more favorable to defendants since they are absolute. Unlike the Statute of Limitations, it cannot be tolled, or pushed off, for any reason, even for minors.

In Massachusetts, medical malpractice claims are subject to both a Statute of Limitations and a Statute of Repose. Medical malpractice claims are subject to a three-year Statute of Limitations and a seven-year Statute of Repose. This means that, if a doctor committed malpractice on an eight-year-old child, the deadline from the Statute of Limitations would be that child’s 21st birthday. However, the Statute of Repose would apply even though the child is a minor and the child would only have seven years after the accident to file suit.

Statutes of Limitations and Statutes of Repose can be confusing. SUGARMAN’s attorneys have decades of experience navigating these laws to achieve the best outcomes for our clients. To learn more, please contact one of our partners by calling (617) 542-1000 or email us at info@sugarman.com