Slow Harm And Personal Injury

Posted on: 18 July 2018

Civil law covers a number of personal injury situations, and you might be surprised by the variety of ways that people can suffer harm from others and be compensated. One special type of personal injury involves harm that gradually occurred over a period of time. Read on to learn more.

Slow and steady harm

Not all injuries happen in an instant, such as that of the careless printed word or an inattentive driver; some may begin so gradually that the victim is unaware of its presence. It might take years and years for the injury to become obvious enough for the victim to take notice, and then the damage could be so severe that they never fully recover. Here are two incidents that you will readily recognize involving this manner of harm:

1. You and your family have been drinking water for years that was tainted with lead or some other toxic substance.

2. You have worked in an industry where asbestos was used and have suffered gradual and permanent damage to your lungs.

The statutes of limitations

There are special provisions available to deal with the rule that limits a victim's time to sue for damages. Since the onset of the damage happened so long ago that it is likely that the case would normally exceed the statute of limitations, there is an exception known as the discovery of harm. This exception doesn't eliminate the statute of limitations, but instead, it is said to "toll" or be suspended until the victim becomes aware of the harm. Once they know about it, or should know about it, the clock begins to tick toward the end of the time period for filing a case.

Work-related but a personal injury

You may have noticed that one of the examples above cited a work-related injury. Normally, workers' compensation insurance would provide benefits to help those injured on the job, but the harm caused by things like toxic substances often exceed the damage limits using that form of insurance. The harm caused by asbestos fibers, for example, was so egregious that a class action lawsuit resulted in a huge trust fund of compensation being set aside for the victims.

The important takeaway is to never just assume that it's too late to file a claim against a person or business that's caused you harm. The discovery of harm exception is just one of many exceptions to the statute of limitations, so speak with an experienced injury lawyer as soon as you know you've been hurt.