How Long You Have To File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

How Long You Have To File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Most people never expect to be in a situation where they might file a personal injury lawsuit. Because of this, most people do not really understand how the process works. A very common question is, “How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?” It can be an intimidating thought that you might lose your ability to file a lawsuit if you wait too long. This guide will explain everything you need to know about your time limit to file.

The Statute of Limitations

The legal term for the time limit to file a lawsuit is the statute of limitations. If the statute of limitations expires, then any lawsuit filed will simply be thrown out. Because of this, you should always be aware of the statute of limitations in your case and be sure to file your lawsuit before it expires. The statute of limitations begins at the time of your injury.

The length of the statute of limitations varies based on two factors. First, the state you are in affects it. Second, the type of lawsuit you are filing affects it. For personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations is either two or three years in 40 of the 50 US states. These are the 10 states with a statute of limitations that is longer or shorter than two or three years for personal injury lawsuits:

  • Florida – Four years
  • Kentucky – One year
  • Louisiana – One year
  • Maine – Six years
  • Missouri – Five years
  • Nebraska – Four years
  • North Dakota – Six years
  • Tennessee – One year
  • Utah – Four years
  • Wyoming – One year

If you do not live in one of the states listed here, you can rest assured that you have two or three years to file your case. This should be long enough to allow you to recover before turning your attention to legal matters.

The Discovery Rule

There is only one major exception to the statute of limitations. It is called the discovery rule. It states that the statute of limitations does not begin counting down until the injury is discovered and the identity of the person who caused the injury is discovered.

For example, if you are injured in a hit-and-run and you do not discover the identity of the other driver for three years, your time limit would not begin counting down until you make that discovery. This may allow you to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations would otherwise have expired. A personal injury attorney, like a personal injury lawyer in Minneapolis, MN, can tell you more.

Thank you to the experts at Johnston | Martineau PLLP for their input into personal injury law.