April 30, 2020
Personal Injury Lawyer
A statute of limitations is a law that limits the time for filing a lawsuit. The time in which the suit can be filed is known as the limitations period. After the limitations period ends, an injury victim loses the legal right to recover compensation from the person who was responsible for the injury.
A statute of limitations serves a couple of purposes. Having a deadline for filing suit encourages people not to “sit on their rights.” Nobody should have to spend years wondering whether they are going to be sued by someone they arguably harmed.
Going to court promptly also helps the legal system achieve correct results. The passage of time causes memories to fade and makes evidence more difficult to find. The outcome of a lawsuit becomes less reliable when an injury victim waits a long time to start it.
States establish different limitations periods for different kinds of legal claims. They typically allow longer limitations periods when a claim is based on documents (such as a lawsuit for breach of a written contract). Witnesses might forget what happened in the past, but documents do not suffer from memory loss.
A shooting at a restaurant depends on witnesses who must testify about what happened. For that reason, lawsuits involving shootings usually have a shorter limitations period than some other kinds of lawsuits. A security negligence lawyer can help victims understand the limitations period that applies to a potential lawsuit against a restaurant where a shooting occurred.
Liability for a Shooting at a Restaurant
Victims of a shooting can sue the person who shot them. Limitations periods based on intentionally violent conduct tend to be relatively short.
When a restaurant owner should have foreseen the risk that a patron might be injured in a violent confrontation, a legal claim can be based on the owner’s failure to take reasonable precautions to protect patrons from harm. Restaurants have a duty to provide security when the circumstances (such as being located in a high crime area) would place reasonable restaurant owners on notice that patrons are at risk of being harmed by violence.
Restaurants also have a duty to make their premises safe for patrons. Owners are negligent when they fail to install adequate lighting if they should realize that criminals might take advantage of poor lighting to rob or sexually assault patrons. When a shooting death occurs under those circumstances, crime victims can bring a lawsuit to hold the restaurant liable.
Statute of Limitations for a Shooting at a Restaurant
Each state establishes its own limitations period for negligence and wrongful death. The statute of limitations for a lawsuit alleging a restaurant’s negligence might be as short as one year or as long as six years. The most common limitations periods for negligence lawsuits are two or three years.
When a crime victim dies in a shooting, the victim’s family or estate can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death caused by negligence is typically, but not always, the same as the limitations period for bringing an injury claim based on negligence.
State laws may also establish exceptions to the limitations period. A common exception applies when a minor survives a shooting. Most states allow more time for minors to bring lawsuits. Disabled victims who are mentally incapable of bringing a lawsuit on their own might also have more time to sue.
If the victim’s estate must bring the wrongful death claim, the limitations period might not begin to run until the estate enters probate. Not all states follow that rule. A personal injury lawyer can advise shooting victims and their families about the limitations period that applies to their claim.