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How Long Is the Statute of Limitations for a Shooting Injury at a Business?

Experienced Attorney

Victims of a shooting can pursue a legal remedy against every person or company that contributed to their injuries. When a shooting occurs on business property, the victim may be entitled to pursue a remedy against the business owner.

While laws vary from state to state, the general rule is that a business has a duty to protect patrons from foreseeable harm. Particularly in high crime areas, businesses may be required to provide adequate security to ensure that people who enter their property are not injured or killed by shooters.

Businesses also have a duty to ensure that property conditions do not encourage violent crimes. A parking lot mugging or assault that ends with a shooting might be prevented by adequate lighting. A business that fails to keep its premises safe can be held responsible for criminal acts that are encouraged by the unsafe condition.

Statute of Limitations for a Shooting at a Business

Every state sets time limits for bringing forth lawsuits. The time in which a lawsuit must be brought forth is known as a limitations period. Each law that sets a limitations period is called a “statute of limitations.”

Limitations periods vary from state to state. Within a state, the limitations period may vary depending on the nature of a lawsuit. For example, a lawsuit against a shooter based on an intentional act of violence might have a different limitations period than a lawsuit against a business based on inadequate security.

The statute of limitations that governs negligence claims will usually apply to lawsuits against businesses for failing to maintain safe premises or to provide adequate security. Limitations periods for negligence lawsuits are typically two or three years, though they can be as short as one year or as long as six years.

Time limits become even more complicated if the shooting occurred on a business operated by the government. A “notice of claim” law might impose a short time limit for notifying the government of the victim’s intent to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations may also be different if the claim is made against the government.

Statutes of limitations all have very different strict rules and timeframes. It is always prudent to consult with a security negligence and shooting lawyer, like a security negligence and shooting lawyer in Atlanta, GA, to determine the limitations period that applies to a particular shooting.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for a Shooting at a Business

After determining the basic limitations period that applies to a shooting, a security negligence lawyer will ask whether any law “tolls” or pauses the commencement of the limitations period. “Tolling” laws again vary from state to state. A common tolling provision applies to minors. When the shooting victim has not reached 18 years, the limitations period typically does not start to run until state law recognizes the victim as an adult. Limitations periods might also be paused while the victim is suffering from a mental disability that prevents him or her from filing a lawsuit. Some states also toll or extend the limitations period while the victim is in prison or on active duty in the military.

Businesses sometimes attempt to discharge their liability to injury victims by filing bankruptcy. Some states toll the limitations period while the bankruptcy is pending. Some states also give extra protection to crime victims by tolling the limitations period until a criminal prosecution against the defendant ends. An experienced attorney can help shooting victims understand whether that tolling provision applies to a business that is sued for security negligence.

In a wrongful death case, the limitations period might be tolled or extended for a fixed length of time until the victim’s estate enters probate. That provision might not apply, however, when the claim is brought by family members rather than the estate.

State laws governing tolling of limitations periods are far from uniform. A personal injury lawyer is in the best position to advise shooting victims of the deadline that governs a lawsuit against a business that failed to take steps to protect patrons from injuries. Understanding the limitations period is important because the right to bring forth a lawsuit will be lost forever if it is not commenced before the limitations period expires.

Thanks to Butler Law Firm for their insight into how long the statute of limitations is for a shooting at a business. 

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