Every state has adopted a deadline to file a lawsuit, and New Hampshire is no exception. Known as the statute of limitations, this deadline applies to every lawsuit filed in the state. The deadline to file suit varies not just from one state to another, but from one type of New Hampshire claim to another.
There are three general purposes the statute of limitations serves. First, New Hampshire imposes time limits on filing a lawsuit to prevent unnecessary delays between the accident and the date a lawsuit is filed. In part, this is designed to avoid unexpected congestion of court dockets with older cases.
The second purpose of the statute of limitations is designed to ensure the facts surrounding a case remain clear through the course of the suit. Evidence is lost and witness memories can fade. By requiring a prompt filing of a lawsuit, the courts are less likely to preside over a claim marred by faded memories.
Finally, the statute of limitations can protect defendants from stale lawsuits filed years after a claim solely for the purpose of harassment. Once the statute expires, a defendant has a reasonable expectation that they no longer need to stress over the claim.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS
The statute of limitations varies significantly across state lines. While Louisiana enforces a brief one-year statute of limitations for a personal injury claim, Missouri gives a plaintiff five years to file suit. In New Hampshire, the three-year deadline enforced by state law is in the middle of the pack compared to other states. This deadline applies to all personal injury claims, from car accidents to product liability cases. Like with most things, there are some exceptions to the three-year statute of limitations.
There are a few important exceptions to New Hampshire’s statute of limitations. These include minors and lawsuits against government entities.
When a person under the age of 18 sustains an injury due to another party’s negligence, they often have more than the traditional three years to bring a claim. Under state law, minor plaintiffs injured in an accident have two years from their 18th birthday to file a claim. The end result is a statutory period much longer than what is available to adults in some cases. There are other exceptions related to the deadline for minors to file suit, primarily related to medical malpractice claims. An experienced attorney can help you better understand how these exceptions impact your case.
SUITS AGAINST GOVERNMENT ENTITIES
Another important exception to be aware of involves negligence claims against state or local governments. If you believe you have a claim against a government entity, you only have 180 days to bring your claim in the appropriate court. There are other pitfalls involving a negligence claim against a government entity. Discussing your options with a New Hampshire injury attorney could keep you from missing out on an opportunity for compensation.