Statutes of Limitation: What Are They, and Why Do We Have Them?

You may or may not have heard of a statute of limitation in a legal context.  A statute of limitation determines when a legal claim can be brought and at what point a legal claim expires.  A legal claim can be brought at any point a person suffers a harm to a legal right, and a legal remedy is available.  The statute of limitation tells us at what point a claim can no longer be brought.  The legislature of each state determines what length of time applies to each type of claim.

Why have Statutes of Limitation?

Perhaps, you are wondering: “why does a legal claim have to expire?”  There are a few reasons that a legal claim expires, the first of which is that as claims age, evidence can get stale.  Witnesses lose their memory of events, and evidence can get lost, tampered with, or destroyed.  It is simple: the longer we are from an incident, the more lost it gets.

The second reason, usually advanced by the insurance companies and corporate interests involved, is that the respective businesses need some certainty that a claim from the distant past will not take them by surprise.  While somewhat dubious, this narrative has won the day.  Big business has convinced legislatures that having statutes of limitation will help them keep insurance costs down by creating certainty.

Wisconsin Statutes of Limitation

Statutes of limitation are the law and here to stay, so the best thing you can do is to know about them.  In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims due to negligence is three years, but there are other statutes that could affect your case as well. For instance the statutes for intentional torts and medical malpractice could affect your case.

This is why I always write that it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer sooner rather than later.  It is no skin off of your back to come in or call for a free consultation, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you can be compensated for the injury you suffered.  A lawyer will also be able to identify what statutes of limitation are in play and how to proceed to make sure your claim is satisfied.

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