Ohio Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims
The Statutes of Limitations are time limits that are applied to various causes of actions (types of lawsuits) with the goal of preventing claims being brought against a person or entity long after evidence is lost, facts have been obscured, and witnesses disappear, die, or simply no longer accurately remember them.
Both civil and criminal actions have these time limits, including motor vehicle accident claims filed by pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, passengers, and riders. The statute for Ohio can be used by any defendant to have the action defeated, though a defendant can waive the defense if they choose.
Time Limits for Ohio
Federal law says that time limits put on causes of action must give the plaintiff a reasonable amount of time to file the action, and it cannot immediately restrict a standing remedy. Nor can a time limit be so short that a person is denied a reasonable opportunity to start building a case for a lawsuit.
States define their own time limits based on federal rules and in Ohio the time limit to bring a lawsuit for injuries and losses sustained in a car crash is two years from the date the accident occurred. If a victim suffers wrongful death as a result of an auto accident, the state also applies a two-year time limit from the date of the death.
There are certain situations in which a person may not know an injury was sustained. The Discovery Rules allows the time limits to start when the injury or loss was discovered or should have been discovered.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
Though these time limits are designed to help the defendant in a case, there are times when the law allows a plaintiff to extend the time limit to file a suit. Generally, a plaintiff can have the clock stopped under a specific event occurs.
A statute can be tolled –
- If the victim is a child under the age of 18
- If the victim has a mental illness that makes incapable of taking legal action on their own behalf
In cases such as these, the time limit is stopped until the disability has been removed, such as when a minor turns 18. If the person has more than one disability, the time clock is not started until all disabilities are removed. Keep in mind, the only person that toll the time limit is the person affected by the disability.
Be aware, that once the time clock begins to run, it won’t be stopped if one of the parties becomes disabled, unless the law states it can be.
If you wait too long to file a lawsuit, and the clock runs out, you will miss your opportunity. Also, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to negotiate a settlement, because negotiations can go sour and you may still need time to file a lawsuit.