Under Arkansas Law, civil lawsuits and criminal proceedings must be filed within a specified time limit, popularly referred to as the statute of limitations. For instance, if you get injured in a car accident, the statute of limitations is three years. You have three years from the date you got injured to file your lawsuit or compensation claim.
Generally, the statute of limitations in Arkansas varies on a case-by-case basis. If you file a lawsuit or compensation claim after the time limit lapses, the chances are that the court will disregard it. When filing a lawsuit in Arkansas, consult the experienced attorneys at the law offices of Morris Bart to find out the time limit that applies to your case.
Why Is the Arkansas Statute of Limitations Important?
The main reason for creating the Arkansas statute of limitation is to bar potential defendants from getting subjected to unfair prosecution and other legal actions. Critical evidence in a case is likely to get watered down or lost with time. Finding witnesses may also be challenging.
Statutes of limitations in Arkansas and elsewhere are intended to ensure personal injury lawsuits proceed faster and more efficiently. The legal system is complex, and it’s pretty easy for a case to fall through the cracks with time. Quick engagement goes a long way in ensuring justice gets services early. You also stand to get compensated faster if you file your lawsuit earlier.
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The Civil Statute of Limitations Laws in Arkansas
In Arkansas, the statute of limitations in civil cases is enforced at the state level. Most civil claims need to get filed within three years. This includes injury to property, libel, and personal injury lawsuits. Typically, the countdown begins after the alleged injury or disputed event happens. There are several exceptions to this rule.
Although most claims and lawsuits need to get filed within three years, libel lawsuits carry a one-year statute of limitations. On the other hand, written contracts carry a five-year limit, while judgments have a 10-year statute of limitations.
Since the Arkansas State Legislature amends laws regularly, you may want to contact our attorneys to establish how the statute of limitations applies to your case. This way, we will swing into action and ensure you win the lawsuit or compensation claim you intend to file.
The “Discovery of Harm” Rule
Although the statute of limitations in Arkansas and elsewhere stipulates that you must file a lawsuit within a specified period after an injury or accident. Tolling doesn’t start until you discover that you suffered harm and the nature of the harm. In particular, this rule applies to personal injury, injury to property, and malpractice lawsuits.
Suppose you accidentally got exposed to asbestos 30 years ago, but you’ve just discovered your injuries after a positive diagnosis for asbestos. The discovery rule in the Arkansas statute of limitations holds that the clock should start to toll on the date your injury got discovered. Therefore, it allows you ample time to file a lawsuit or compensation claim to recover damages.
The delay in discovery should be reasonable under the circumstances surrounding your case. For instance, if the asbestos poisoning victim starts to experience pain after exposure but refuses to seek treatment for several years, the lawsuit could be barred by the Arkansas statute of limitations. Similarly, the “discovery of harm” rule doesn’t apply in most personal injury cases. There’s nothing to discover regarding the nature and source of harm suffered.
Lawsuits Involving Minors
The statute of limitations in cases involving minors doesn’t begin until they turn 21 years. Except in wrongful death cases, minors have three years after their 21st birthday to file a suit. In cases where minors under nine years suffer an injury, their legal guardians have until their 11th birthday or two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit.
Conversely, if no medical injury gets discovered or couldn’t have been discovered before the minor’s 11th birthday, they have two years after the discovery or the minor’s 19th birthday to file a lawsuit. If minors and their parents settle with the defendant, they forgo the right to file a claim after their 21st birthday.
What If I File a Lawsuit After the Time Limit Elapses?
If you fail to file your Arkansas civil claim according to the statutes of limitations for your case, the case won’t be heard. For instance, in a personal injury lawsuit, an insurance company will use the delay to claim you don’t deserve to get compensated. The jury is likely to side with the insurance company, meaning you won’t recover any compensation.
Defendants often challenge whether the lawsuit got filed on time. If you filed your case after the three-year limit, you must demonstrate that your lawsuit or compensation claim is subject to one of the exceptions outlined in the Arkansas statute of limitations.
Though unlikely, a defendant can waive the statute of limitations in Arkansas. If you file a lawsuit after the time limit has passed and the defendant allows the case to proceed, they also forgo their statute of limitations defense.
Filing a Lawsuit in Arkansas? Let’s Fight for You
Whether you’re filing a personal injury lawsuit in Fayetteville or a medical malpractice claim in Springdale, Arkansas, knowing when to file your case is an essential step toward recovering damages. Hiring the aggressive attorneys at the law offices of Morris Bart is in your best interests because we will fight in your corner and ensure your rights get upheld.
Having handled dozens of cases similar to yours, we have what it takes to secure justice for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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