You’ve likely heard the term “statute of limitations.” It’s often used a plot point in law procedurals and various statutes often make the news as shocking cases of abuse or neglect come to light. For example, many abuse allegations against the Catholic church and Bill Cosby were scuttled because of statutes limiting when a case may be filed. But the importance of these statutes goes beyond just providing citizens a deadline for filing legal claims.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
Remember that episode when the hot shot detective finally solved the case only to find out that the perpetrator couldn’t be charged because of the statute of limitations? Maybe the DA comes in and finds some magic workaround or some DNA evidence reveals a felony the perpetrator can be tried for. These thrilling moments in legal fiction and tv shows can leave viewers and readers wondering how the good guys—the cops and lawyers—are going to try and convict the bad guys, but they also raise a question about the legal system. What is the statute of limitations exactly and why do we have it? After all, if someone acts negligently or criminally, should we be able to sue them or charge them whenever?
To begin, there is no one “Statute of Limitations.” Every state in the union has its own statutes. In addition, the federal government also has a set of laws dictation when legal action may be brought. These statutes may vary between criminal and civil proceedings, which is why you may see individuals being sued under personal injury law for crimes that can no longer be tried under criminal law.
In most cases, for a case to go to trial, it must be filed within the statute of limitations. In Florida, the statute of limitations that applies to personal injury law can be found online. While it covers a lot of ground, it isn’t the easiest document to read.
Why do Statute of Limitations Laws Matter?
The goal of the statutes isn’t just to keep things nice and orderly. The statute of limitations aims to protect citizens from unfair litigation. They try to make the system fair and predictable by creating a and imposing guidelines for judges and lawyers. While this is admirable, there are times that cases with legal merit are unable to be tried because they weren’t filed within the appropriate timeframe. That’s why it is always recommended that you see a Tampa personal injury lawyer as soon as it is apparent that you have been injured.