Not all injuries happen in an instant, some simmer away unnoticed for years before the victim fully experiences the full impact. If you have been harmed in some manner by a faulty product or dangerous substance, you may have time on your side in a surprising way. Read on for more information about the discovery of harm.

The Statutes of Limitations

Every state in the union has rules about how much time you have to file a lawsuit against a person or company who has harmed you. It can vary from about a year to as much as 6 years. If you know you have an injury and fail to act by suing within the time period granted by the statute of limitations, you will very likely miss your opportunity to be compensated for your injury or illness.

An Important Exception

The problem with the statute of limitations rule is that it's difficult to take action against any wrongdoers if you are not aware that you have been harmed. That is where an exception known as the discover of harm comes into play. Here, the statute of limitations, whatever it may be in your state, "tolls" or is suspended for a period of time. The period of time this tolling can take place is unlimited, but once you know about the harm (or should have known about it), the statute of limitations clock begins to tick. The discovery of harm date marks the beginning of the statute of limitations for certain types of injures where you could not have known you were being harmed at the time the harm began.

How Could This Happen?

You may be wondering how someone could be harmed and not know about it right away, so consider some of the more common examples of this type of injury below:

During surgery, a foreign object (like a surgical instrument or a sponge) is accidentally left behind. The patient doesn't know about this action, and it may take many months or years for the negative indications of that negligent action comes to light. At some time later, pain or infection, seemingly mysterious at the time, prompts that patient to seek medical care. Once the harm is discovered, the statute is no longer tolling and action must be take quickly.

A worker with several years in the construction industry begins to experience trouble breathing and a particular kind of lung cancer is discovered. This type of cancer is often caused by asbestos, a harmful and toxic substance. It may take years of scar tissue buildup for the problem to become apparent, at which time the clock begins to tick.

If you have recently discovered harm done to you, no matter how long it has been, talk to a personal injury attorney.