Statute of Limitations

“A statute prescribing limitations to the right of action on certain described causes of action; that is, declaring that no suit shall be maintained on such causes of action unless brought within a specified period after the right accrued” (Black’s Law Dictionary). “The legally prescribed time limit in which a lawsuit must be filed. Statutes of limitation differ depending on the type of legal claim and on state law” (Nolo’s Law Dictionary). “Any law that bars claims after a certain period of time passes after an injury.  The period of time varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of claim” (Cornell Law School).

Example Sentence

After dealing with the injuries from his accident, Jacob hired a lawyer and found out that he had only so much time before the statute of limitations ran out to make a claim against the other reckless driver.

Case Study

After her hardware tool failed and caused serious injuries, Tara had tried her best to take care of it and then move on. However, after two years, she realized that the injuries caused her to constantly live in pain and continued to grow worse. She finally stopped gritting her teeth and bearing it and went to a lawyer to seek recoveries for all of the damage she had suffered, feeling she had a sure fire case. Her lawyer agreed that the facts were strong, but sadly pointed out that in Utah she only had two years to file a claim against the makers of the product before the court would no longer accept the claim. She had missed the deadline and now would have to live without any support to care for her injuries.

Other Important Information

The amount of time can vary dramatically based on what type of injury, illness, or accident occurred. Here are a few statutes of limitations for Utah:

  1. Personal injury negligence from auto accident – 4 years from accident (Matheson v. Pearson)
  2. Property damage negligence from auto accident – 3 years from accident (Utah Code)
  3. Wrongful death claim – 2 years from death (Utah Code)
  4. PIP Benefits – 3 years from rejection (Utah Code)
  5. Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage Claim – 3 years from loss (Utah Code)
  6. Defective product liability – 2 years from discovery of harm and its cause (Utah Code)
  7. If a claim still exists after a person dies – 1 year from the person’s death (Utah Code)
  8. Against a governmental entity – 1 year from the normal start of that type of action (Utah Code)

Utah also uses a “Discovery Rule” which allows for a longer statute of limitations because of a lack of evidence that did not come forward until a later time. Only under certain circumstances can this happen:

  1. a specific “discovery rule” clause is included in the applicable Utah statute,
  2. the defendant tried to conceal facts or mislead the plaintiff, or
  3. “exceptional circumstances” that make the strict application of the limits unjust or irrational (see Williams v. Howard).

If the time runs out on a claim in another state, the claimant cannot pursue it here (Utah Code). If the claimant is a minor, then the statute of limitations does not start until they are an adult (Utah Code). If dealing with health insurance carriers, actions must be taken within two years of the injury or illness or 6 months of the last Medicaid payment, later of the two (Utah Code). This time cannot be limited further by the insurance company.

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