It May Not Be Too Late: Understanding The Discovery Of Harm Exception


Personal injury law covers a wide variety of injuries and various forms of harm, but you only have a limited amount of time to take legal action. When it comes to things like slip and falls, car accidents, defamation, and medical malpractice, you must abide by the statute of limitations. Not all injuries are readily apparent, however. Read on to learn more about a classification of injury that is the exception to the statute of limitations rule.

Slow and Grievous

When you are hurt by the actions of another, you are likely to know about it sooner or later. In most cases, you have knowledge about a form of harm in fairly short order. Some forms of harm, however, are tricky. Many forms of slow-acting harm come from exposure to toxic substances that build up over time. 

For example, the effects of asbestos exposure may not show up years and years – long after the statute of limitations has expired. Fortunately, civil law provides a remedy circumstances like that in the form of something known as the discovery of harm. Anytime you were somehow prevented from having knowledge that harm was happening to you, you can use the discovery of harm exception.

The Discovery of Harm

That does not mean that cases involving slow or hidden harm lack a statute of limitations but just that the statute is said to "toll" or be suspended for a period of time. The period of time can be anything from several years to many, many years. When you had no knowledge of the harm being done, your statute of limitations clock begins not when the harm first occurred but when you knew about it.

When Harm Is Discovered

Once you know about the harm done, the statute of limitations that covers that form of harm starts to tick. For example, you see a doctor due to physical problems and find out that you have a serious medical problem due to exposure to a toxic environmental danger (like lead in the drinking water, for instance). 

Once you have a diagnosis, the statute of limitations begins. However, you are expected to take action and seek medical treatment. If you ignore the symptoms and wait a year or more before getting a confirmed diagnosis, you may exceed the statute of limitations. The defendant may argue that you should have known about the problem due to the symptoms you have been experiencing.

If you are dealing with a sickness or medical condition that gradually affected you over time, speak to your local personal injury law services right away.


24 November 2018

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