If you’re considering a civil suit in Louisiana, it’s important to be aware of limits in the law. For most legal action, the plaintiff only has a limited time to initiate a lawsuit. This restriction is called liberative prescription, and it functions something like the statute of limitations in other states.
It’s also important to understand that the liberative prescription for most civil suits is very short—only one year—which is why it’s critical that you consult with an attorney immediately and act quickly to preserve your right to collect damages when someone has caused harm to you.
Statute of Limitations or Liberative Prescription
The laws of most states (including Louisiana) include a statute of limitations or something equivalent to it.
In criminal matters, these laws require that a prosecution be brought within a finite amount of time. The exact time allowed depends on the crime and the state. In Louisiana, for example, the limit varies from six months for low-level misdemeanors to six years for serious crimes.
There are exceptions to this, of course: Murder and some other crimes have no statute of limitations. There are also situations in which the clock can be suspended (such as fleeing out of state).
Liberative prescriptions are a function of civil law, not criminal law, but they’re based on a similar idea. A criminal statute of limitations is meant to encourage the state to seek justice quickly and not delay either in investigating crimes or putting those charged on trial. Liberative prescriptions require that those who claim to have been harmed by another initiate the process without undue delay.
Time Limits Need Watching
For personal injury cases, Louisiana’s liberative prescription is one year from the time an injury is caused. We use “injury” broadly here, as it can mean physical harm to a person but also damage to property. This is one of the shortest time limits in the country for this kind of case, which is why we encourage those considering a claim to talk to an attorney immediately and, if warranted, file quickly.
There are exceptions to the one-year limit, such as when the harm is to a minor or for many product liability issues, which are handled under separate laws. But those seeking restitution should not count on an exception to stop the clock.
Real Consequences of Delay
The effect of liberative prescription isn’t theoretical and is a real factor in case filings. One medical malpractice suit reached the state Court of Appeals and was still blocked. Because nothing in the case provided an exception to the prescription, the judges had no choice.
Waiting to file also might affect your case in other ways. It might be harder to locate witnesses, for example, or some might no longer remember the incident clearly. Plaintiffs need to keep these things in mind and not drag their feet on getting their cases started.
Baton Rouge Personal Injury Lawyer
When you’ve been harmed by the negligence or recklessness of another and need to pursue compensation, give the experienced personal injury attorneys at Spencer Calahan Injury Lawyers a call. We can help you get your case moving well before any time limit can cause problems. For a free consultation to discuss your case, give us a call at 225-387-2323 or fill out the form below.