What Is the Discovery Rule in Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Posted on: April 11, 2024

Suffering an injury in an accident can dramatically alter the course of your life. Even minor injuries can result in financial hardship, an inability to work, and pain and suffering. In New Jersey, if you are injured due to the negligent actions of others, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the individual, business, or government entity responsible for the damages you suffered. However, state law requires that you bring personal injury claims within a specific time period known as the “statute of limitations.”

The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in New Jersey is two years from the date of the accident or death unless the injured person is a minor, in which the statute of limitations begins upon their 18th birthday. While the statute of limitations is generally strictly enforced, a few notable exceptions fall under the “discovery rule,” which alters the statute of limitations time period in applicable instances.

The discovery rule is a legal principle that resets the statute of limitations based on when an injured person “discovers or reasonably should have discovered” the injury in connection with a previous accident or negligent act. The rule typically applies to cases of medical malpractice or exposure to toxic substances, in which symptoms, illnesses, or diagnoses may not occur until months to years after the incident. Under the rule, the statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims begins the day the symptoms, illness, or diagnosis begins, regardless of when the injury was sustained.  

Why Is the Discovery Rule Important?

The discovery rule protects individuals who may not immediately realize the extent of their injuries or the causal link to the accident or other negligent actions. The rule is crucial to ensuring the injured have a fair opportunity to learn the extent of their injury, identify the causal link, and pursue legal action within a reasonable period.

The discovery rule is a crucial element for injured parties to hold those responsible accountable and seek compensation for their injuries and losses. If you have concerns or questions, you should consult an experienced lawyer. You may be entitled to bring a claim.

Our Hazlet Personal Injury Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Help Clients Seek Justice After Accidents

If you are injured after an accident, contact our Hazlet personal injury lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County, Sussex County, Neptune, Middlesex County, and Pennsylvania.