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What Happens if I Missed the Statute of Limitations in Arkansas Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic?

One of the first things we ask new personal injury clients is when their accident took place. There is a good reason for this. In Arkansas, you only have a certain amount of time to file your personal injury lawsuit. This is because of something called the statute of limitations. For most personal injury cases, the limitations period in Fayetteville, Arkansas is only three (3) years. This means that you only have three years from the date of your injury to file suit. If you miss this deadline, you will not be allowed to file your claim. There are very few exceptions to this rule.

For certain types of injury cases, the law is even stricter. For example, you only have two (2) years to file a medical malpractice case. This would include a case for misdiagnosis or a case where your doctor made a mistake during surgery. The statute of limitations period is shorter in these cases, mostly due to the difficult of proving fault. You only have 2 years from the date of the malpractice (or when you discovered the malpractice). If you miss this deadline, your case will be dismissed.

When COVID-19 hit the U.S., a lot of our clients got worried. They were afraid that they would miss their statute of limitations period because everything shut down. If the courts were closed, how was somebody supposed to file their lawsuit? Most states decided to extend the statute period for civil case. Arkansas is not one of these states. That’s why it’s important that you call an experienced injury lawyer in Fayetteville sooner rather than later.

How Can You File a Lawsuit if the Courts are Closed?

One of the obvious questions anyone would have is how they’re supposed to file their case if the courts are closed. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the courts may be closed to the public, but they are still conducting business. Most non-emergency matters have been postponed. So, if you had a motion hearing that was scheduled during the COVID shutdown, it would likely be postponed. However, some courts have been holding video court. This means your attorney would appear at their motion via Zoom or some other sort of online service.

But, what does this mean for people who didn’t file their lawsuit yet? The courts in Arkansas have something called electronic filing. Your attorney can prepare your complaint and file it using an online service. As you can imagine, this isn’t something the average person knows or would be able to do. You still must find a way to pay your filing fees. And you may not have the first clue how to do an electronic filing. That’s why it’s more important than ever that you have a trusted attorney in Fayetteville handle your case.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Arkansas?

Naturally, if you missed your filing deadline, you’re going to want to know if there’s an exception to the rule that may apply in your case. After all, nothing is final, right? Wrong. There are very few exceptions to the statute of limitations filing deadline in Arkansas. The same is true in every state. The courts limit the types and number of cases that are granted exemptions to the rule.

Some of the exemptions that do exist in Fayetteville include the following:

  • Plaintiff is a minor – If you were a minor when you got hurt, the statute won’t begin until you turn 18. You then have three (3) years to file suit. So, if you got hurt when you were 17, you would have until you’re about 20 to file suit.
  • Discovery Rule – In Arkansas, the statute period doesn’t start until you know you were hurt. Obviously, this won’t apply in most cases. For example, if you were in a car accident, you should know when you got hurt. But if it was due to something like medical malpractice or a dangerous drug case, it may take longer to discover your injuries.
  • Fraud – If the defendant is fraudulently avoiding litigation, you may be able to get an extension.

It’s important that you know when your period starts. If you miss it, your case will be dismissed. That’s why you should call an experienced personal injury lawyer in Arkansas right away. Schedule your free initial consultation today so you don’t lose your right to sue.

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