The time period to file a lawsuit is known as the statute of limitations. You can file a claim within the time allotted with an insurance company or governmental entity. But if you do not follow up with an actual complaint filed in the proper court, your claim will be barred. Statute of limitations are unforgiving. Miss the deadline by one day, and your case is lost. There is no getting around a missed deadline. When a case comes into a lawyer’s office, the attorney will calculate the last day to file a lawsuit. That date is then marked on the file, on a calendar, and anywhere else in the office where it will be noticed. Time limits can be confusing, and a claimant needs to contact an attorney to find out the exact deadline. The statute of limitations for a brain injury due to sports activity may well be different than the limitations for an auto accident or a contract case. The only way to know for sure is to contact an attorney. There are, however, several general statements that prove true for limitations on actions for brain injuries.
The first step in making the calculation is determining the length of the statute of limitations. Different causes of action have different time periods. A brain injury caused by sports activity will have a set time limit, such as two years. The deadline will vary from state to state so it is important to know the limitation in the state where the injury occurred. For example, the statute of limitations in California is two years. That is the general rule, but like many legal concepts, there are exceptions.
One exception in some states relates to the party that caused the brain injury. If you are suing a private party, then the general statute applies. In many cases, however, the party who allegedly caused the injury (known as the Defendant) is a government entity, such as a school district or county government. Sports injuries occur quite frequently in organized sports run by schools and recreation departments. Most states have laws that require the injured party to file an administrative claim or some type of official notice within a relatively short time period. It may be as short as thirty (30) days or more likely six (6) months. In any event, failure to file this claim will bar a future lawsuit that is filed within the appropriate time limits. This is one reason a person with a brain injury from sports activities needs to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the injury.
Another exception involves the status of the injured party. Many victims of brain injuries in sports activities are minors at the time of the injury. High school football players fall into this category. As a general rule, the statute does not run while a person is a minor. A minor is someone under eighteen (18) years of age. The reason is simple. A minor cannot file a legal action. For example, the statute of limitations is two years. It normally starts on the day of the injury. For a minor it starts on their eighteenth birthday. This rule assumes that no one has been appointed by a court to file an action. If the parents of a minor did not want to wait, they could petition the court to be appointed guardian of their minor child. When this happens, the two years starts running on the date they are appointed guardian. Parents may want to do this if the injury happens to their twelve (12) son while playing football. They want to seek compensation and do not want to wait that six years. Remember that parents are not normally automatically considered guardians for the purpose of filing a lawsuit. They have to be specifically appointed.
Brain injuries in sports activities can leave a person disabled or mentally incompetent. In these cases, the person is unable to file a lawsuit. They are in the same situation as a minor. For them, the statute tolls, which means it stops running. A disabled or mentally incompetent person differs from a minor in one regard: they need a guardian to handle their affairs. Like the minor, the day a guardian is appointed, the statute starts to run. A guardian has many duties, and one of those is to take action to enforce the rights of the incompetent. The guardian stands in the place of the injured party. They need to contact an attorney to protect the rights of their ward.
This discussion has assumed that the date of the brain injury is known. An example is a collision on the football field. That is not always the case. Sometimes the brain injury does not show up until later. It may be difficult to determine the exact date when the injury occurred. A football player plays an entire season and does not exhibit the symptoms of the brain injury until months after playing is over. In this case, there is a problem with determining when the statute starts to run. The normal rule states that the time starts when the injury is discovered. There are problems with this rule as it is a matter of proof to establish the start date. Medical evidence may be needed. An attorney may take a cautious approach and file suit within the time from the earliest possible date to avoid problems. As always, for the injured party, the best course of action is to seek legal help right away.
This discussion has pointed out that knowing the statute of limitations in a particular state for brain injuries due to sports activities is only the start of answering the question. You have to go through all of the above exceptions and then be careful. If you fail to pursue your claim within the time limits, your case and recovery will be lost. Do not sit on a potential claim. Seek legal help and get competent advice. You only have one chance at recovery, and to lose that chance by missing a deadline would be unfortunate and very costly.