Personal Injury Lawyer
A statute of limitations is a law that limits the time for filing a lawsuit in court. Injury victims must either settle their claims or file a lawsuit before the deadline imposed by the applicable statute of limitations. If they do neither of those things, they lose their right to seek a remedy in court.
The time in which a lawsuit can be filed is called the limitations period. Each state sets its own limitations periods. They usually set different limitations periods for different kinds of claims.
The limitations period for a shooting in a club may depend on whether the victim (or the family of a deceased victim) is suing the shooter or the club. Many states impose a shorter limitations period for lawsuits based on intentional conduct, such as deliberately shooting a gun.
The limitations period for a lawsuit based on negligence may be longer. If the victim sues the club for security negligence, the victim may have more time to initiate the suit. A security negligence lawyer can explain the applicable limitations period.
Statute of Limitations for Negligence that Leads to a Shooting at a Club
Nightclubs have a duty to protect their patrons. The nature of that duty depends on the circumstances. Generally, if a club owner should have foreseen a danger to the club’s customers, the owner is negligent if the owner fails to take reasonable steps to protect patrons from that danger.
In many cases, shootings are foreseeable. Clubs tend to be fueled by alcohol and attitude. It isn’t unusual for disputes to spill over from the dance floor. In places where concealed carry might be the rule rather than the exception, it is foreseeable that disputes might end violently. Unfortunately, innocent bystanders are often the victims of shootings that they did not provoke.
Nightclubs have an obligation to provide security, particularly when they are located in areas where shootings are far from rare. Making sure that patrons do not bring a gun into the club is the first step. Patrolling parking lots and assuring that lighting is adequate is also an important means of protecting customers from violent attacks outside the club.
Clubs that breach that duty can be held accountable for shootings, but only if the crime victim acts before the limitations period expires. That period may be as short as one year or as long as six years, depending on the state in which the shooting occurs.
A limitations period of two or three years is relatively common. However, since the limitations period may depend on a variety of factors, the victim of a serious injury, or the family of a victim who is killed in a shooting, should seek legal advice right away.
Extending the Statute of Limitations Deadline for a Shooting at a Club
State laws typically make exceptions that “toll” or pause the limitations period under certain circumstances. The most common exception applies to victims who are minors. While minors are not usually allowed in clubs, they may be the victim of a stray bullet, particularly when shots are fired in a parking lot. Under the law of most states, the limitations period does not begin to run until the minor victim reaches the age of 18.
Victims who suffer from a mental disability may also benefit from tolling. Most states pause the limitations period for the duration of the disability, although some states extend it by a maximum period of years.
In some states, if the club owner’s criminal action contributed to the shooting, that fact might toll the limitations period until criminal charges are resolved, subject to a maximum tolling period. Asking for advice about limitations periods from a personal injury law firm is the best way of protecting a victim’s right to pursue compensation for shooting injuries.