Indiana Civil Statute of Limitations
The civil statute of limitations in Indiana limits the time you have to file a lawsuit after suffering an injury because of someone else’s negligence. However, circumstances specific to your case may delay, pause, or speed up the statute of limitations. A solid understanding of the Indiana statutes of limitations is critical to protecting your case.
The civil statute of limitations defines the deadline for filing a lawsuit when you have experienced harm because of someone else’s wrongful act, omission, or default. If you miss the deadline, you will be forever barred from filing a claim and recovering the compensation you need and deserve.
How long is the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Indiana?
The statute of limitations in Indiana is two years from the date your injury occurred. This generally applies to the following types of personal injury cases:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slips and falls
Some states have a discovery rule, which allows the clock on the statute of limitations to begin when an injury is discovered, even if the discovery date is after the statute of limitations has expired. Indiana statutes do not provide a discovery rule for most personal injury types, but they do provide an exception for medical malpractice claims.
Can the statute of limitations be paused?
The correct term for pausing the statute of limitations is “tolling.” Indiana law allows the statute of limitations to be tolled in certain circumstances:
- While the defendant resides out of state unless the defendant maintains an in-
- When wrongdoing is not discoverable because the defendant fraudulently
- During a period of legal disability of the plaintiff, such as in the case of a minor or
an individual who has been declared incompetent
Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is generally two years from the date of death, with some exceptions when the death was caused by medical malpractice or defective products.
The statute of limitations in a survival action is 18 months from the date of death, provided the deceased was not already time-barred from filing a claim prior to their death.
The statute of limitations in Indiana for medical malpractice cases is generally two years from the date of the injurious act. In the case of a child under the age of six, the statute of limitations is extended until the child’s eighth birthday. Indiana case law provides several additional exceptions to the medical malpractice statute of limitations.
The Discovery Rule
Some cases of medical malpractice are only discovered years after the wrongdoing took place, well after the statute of limitations has expired.
The Indiana courts have ruled that a literal interpretation of Indiana law is unconstitutional in cases of medical malpractice on the grounds that it denies patients the right to file claims when they could not reasonably have discovered the medical malpractice before the statute of limitations expired.
Consequently, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is reset to two years after the date of discovery if the injury is discovered after the expiration of the initial statute of limitations. This date of discovery is known as the “trigger date.”
If the trigger date occurs within the window of the statute of limitations, it generally does not extend the time limit to file a claim. An exception may be made if you can prove that, in the exercise of due diligence, it would be impossible to file the case on time. Because the law is so complex, it’s strongly advised that you speak to an attorney as soon as you become aware of the injury.
The Doctrine of Fraudulent Concealment
The statute of limitations may not be used as a defense for medical malpractice cases if the wrongdoing was undiscoverable because the practitioner took measures to conceal the wrongful acts.
In these cases, a lawsuit may be filed within a reasonable amount of time after the injury is discovered, even if the two-year statute of limitations has expired. The date on which the clock starts depends on the type of concealment used.
Constructive concealment is concealment by omission. It occurs when the doctor fails to disclose information that would have led to the discovery of the malpractice. In constructive concealment cases, the statute of limitations commences on the date the doctor-patient relationship ceased.
In cases of active concealment, the limitations period may commence on the date of the actual discovery of the wrongdoing. In order to toll the statute of limitations until this date, the plaintiff must prove the actions of the defendant were meant to mislead and that they prevented the plaintiff from investigating or discovering the wrongdoing.
The Doctrine of Continuing Wrong
When an injury is caused by a practitioner’s continuous course of conduct, the statute of limitations can commence on the date of the last encounter rather than the date of the initial act. In no case can the period of limitation begin at any point after the last encounter is terminated.
In cases involving defective products, the statute of limitations is two years from the date you suffered an injury but not more than 10 years after you purchased the product. However, if you were injured more than eight years after purchasing the product but less than 10, you may file a claim within two years of the occurrence.
If your injury occurs after the 10-year period, your claim is barred.
The statute of limitations for fertility fraud cases is as follows:
- Ten years after the 18th birthday of a child
- If the above is not applicable, 20 years after the procedure
- Five years after the offense is discovered through DNA, a recording, or confession by the defendant
Claims Against Government Entities
If you have a claim against a city or county, you must file a Notice of Claim with the designated government agency within 180 days of the injury. If you have a claim against the state of Indiana, you have 270 days from the date of injury to file a Notice of Claim with the attorney general.
Tips to Avoid Missing the Deadline
Determining the statute of limitations in a specific case is not an exact science. The law imposes multiple exceptions, which could cause you to miss the statute of limitations if you are not well-versed in matters of law. The DOs and DON’Ts below will help you avoid missing this important deadline.
1. DO gather evidence and document your case.
Taking photos, saving receipts, and preserving dangerous products will save your attorney valuable time and ensure you have a strong case before the filing deadline.
2. DON’T assume your case qualifies for an exception.
If you are able to file your case on time without the need for an exception, this is your safest course of action. The exceptions that lengthen the statute of limitations are applied in rare cases. If you assume incorrectly and file late, the court could rule against you, and you will permanently lose your right to file a claim.
3. DO obtain legal advice from a qualified attorney about the statute of limitations.
Just as you should not assume your case is the exception, you also should not assume it is the rule. Without counsel from a competent personal injury attorney, you may be unaware of an exception that shortens the statute of limitations in your case.
The statute of limitations is such an important deadline that it is well worth the time it takes to speak with an attorney to ensure your case is safe.
4. DON’T procrastinate.
An attorney will need as much time as possible to investigate the incident, gather evidence, and build your case. Contacting an attorney sooner rather than later will provide them with the best opportunity to build a strong case.
The statute of limitations can approach faster than you expect if you are not mindful of the passage of time. When you have a reputable Indiana personal injury attorney on your side, you will find that there is no need to procrastinate. The personal injury attorneys at Stein Law will take the burden off you.
Contacting us is as simple as completing our easy online contact form. Contact our reputable legal team today to learn how the Indiana civil statute of limitations applies to you.