Under this country’s judicial system, people injured due to another’s negligence have a limited time to file a negligence lawsuit against a person or corporation. The time limits are collectively known as ‘statutes of limitation.’ Many people may be aware of the laws from watching legal-themed television shows. One of the rationales behind imposing time limitations for the filing of a lawsuit is to allow the defendant’s preparation of a defense without evidence being lost due to the death of witnesses or the loss of other documents or materials that may support a defense to the case. Another reason for the time limits is to allow a defendant certainty and to avoid the defendant being sued so long after an event that such a process seems unfair.
Pursuant to D.C. Code § 12-301, a potential plaintiff must usually bring a negligence case within three years from the date of the incident. This means that a D.C. car accident case must be filed within three years after the date of the accident. If an automobile accident case is filed even a day late, the court will dismiss the action and leave the plaintiff unable to recover for his or her harms and losses.
In addition, special rules apply is if a person is harmed by the negligence of the District, or one of its employees.
D.C. Code § 12-309 states that a plaintiff cannot pursue a claim against the District of Columbia government unless the claimant gives notice to the Mayor’s Office within 180 days of the event. The notice must contain certain important pieces of information the District needs to determine its potential liability. If a person fails to provide this notice in a timely manner, he or she will most likely not be able to hold the District or its employees responsible for the harms and losses imposed.
The D.C. statutes of limitations highlight the importance of acting promptly when a person sustains injury due to another’s negligence.
If you or a family member has been injured in a D.C. personal injury accident, contact our D.C. accident attorneys for a free consultation.