If you suffer a personal injury, you may need to file a lawsuit against a person or organization to recover the cost of your damages. There are various steps you and your attorney will need to take, but the case won't even get off the ground if you don't file the lawsuit within a certain period. Find out how the statute of limitations works in Maine, and learn more about the implications this could have on a personal injury lawsuit.
Why does the United States have a statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations is a law that exists to define a set period in which you can initiate legal proceedings against a person, company or organization. The statute of limitations is essentially the period that the authorities believe gives the plaintiff a reasonable amount of time to take legal action against the defendant. The statute varies between states, and often varies between offenses.
In truth, the statute of limitations exists to protect the defendant. The statute puts the onus on the plaintiff to show reasonable diligence in pursuing a legal matter. What's more, the law also recognizes that a defendant may lose or destroy evidence relevant to a claim that a plaintiff makes some time after an event occurs.
What is the statute of limitations in Maine?
The statute of limitations in Maine gives you up to six years to file a personal injury claim in a civil court. Generally, this six-year period starts on the date that your claim arises. For personal injury lawsuits, this statute normally starts on the date you suffer an accident or injury.
For example, the statute would start on the day:
- A car accident takes place.
- You slip and fall on a defective sidewalk.
- You injure your tooth on a foreign object in food you buy in a restaurant.
Maine has one of the most generous statutes of limitations in the United States. In other parts of the country, the statute only offers a two-year-period in which a plaintiff can file his or her case.
What is the statute of limitations when filing a claim against the state?
If you slip and fall on a public sidewalk, you may need to file a personal injury claim against the municipality responsible for the upkeep of the area. In this case, the statute of limitations is shorter. In fact, you only have 180 days to file a formal claim against a city, county or state authority. You also only have two years to file a formal lawsuit.
Are there any exceptions to the rule?
If you don't file your claim or personal injury lawsuit within the prescribed period, a court will normally reject your application. However, various exceptions apply in Maine.
The six-year statute of limitations does not start if the injured person cannot legally make his or her case. This situation would apply if the plaintiff is:
- A minor.
- Mentally ill.
- In prison.
- Outside the United States when the injury occurs.
In these cases, the statute of limitations doesn't start until these situations change. For example, the statute of limitations for a child starts when he or she reaches the age of 18. As such, if he or she was 14 when an accident occurred, a minor has up to ten years to file a lawsuit. Similarly, if somebody suffers an injury in prison, his or her statute of limitations does not change until the sentence ends. For these people, the statute of limitations could realistically last for decades.
The statute of limitations is an important legal rule that limits the time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit in Maine. Talk to your attorney or check out the site for a law firm for information specific to your state.