How Long Do I Have To Hire An Attorney?

The law requires that you file a lawsuit within a specified period of time depending on the nature of the claim and the entity that caused your injury. This is referred to as the statute of limitations. Failure to file suit within this time frame prevents you from filing suit at all. In some instances, there are various exceptions to the statutes of limitation that may extend or limit the limitation periods. There may be special claims presentation requirements for claims against state and local government. For example, prior to suing a public entity, a claimant must provide written notice of the claim within two years from the time the cause of action accrued. For these reasons, it is important to consult an attorney as early as possible to be sure you don't miss a crucial deadline.

In Massachusetts, an action for personal injury or death generally must be brought within three years from the date when the cause of action accrues. In most cases, the cause of action accrues on the date of the incident, but there may be exceptions when the injury could not have reasonably been discovered until a later date. If the claimant is a minor, or is incapacitated by reason of mental illness when a right to bring an action first accrues, the action may be commenced within the time limited after the disability is removed. If a person liable to a personal action fraudulently conceals the cause of such action from the knowledge of the person entitled to bring it, the period prior to the discovery of his cause of action shall be excluded in determining the time limited for the commencement of the action.

A medical malpractice action must be brought within three years from the date when a plaintiff learns or reasonably should have learned that he has been harmed as a result of the defendant's negligence. In no event, however, may a medical malpractice action be brought more than seven years following the alleged wrongful act, except in foreign object actions. The statute of limitations for minors is the same as that for adults, except that a claim accruing on behalf of a child under six can always be brought before the child's ninth birthday.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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