Experiencing a personal injury can change the course of your life. As a result, you may feel that you’re entitled to compensation because you’re suffering from both physical injuries and emotional injuries. If that’s the case for you, your best course of action is to begin consulting with a lawyer and filing your claim as soon as possible. This is because every state imposes a statute of limitations on personal injury claims.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
When you suffer an injury, you have a specific deadline by which you must file your lawsuit. This is called a “Statute of Limitations.” The statute of limitations can vary from state to state, and may even vary depending on the type of injury itself.
The time limit for when you get to file your claim begins from the date of your accident. However, there are exceptions to this rule as well.
The Discovery Rule Exception
There may be some cases where you don’t realize that you have an injury until a while after the accident. For example, consider if you were in a car accident and suffered a hairline fracture. Hairline fractures may not be noticeable right away, resulting in you failing to press charges immediately. Eventually, the injury may start affecting your everyday life as it worsens over time until you finally realize that the injury stemmed from the car accident you had in the past. Unfortunately, by the time you realize this, some days, weeks, or months may have passed since the accident.
In cases like these, the discovery rule exception may apply. With the discovery rule exception, your statute of limitations doesn’t start until the day you discover the injury. At that time, the clock starts ticking, and it’s best to file your claim as soon as possible. In places like Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee, the statute of limitations can be as short as one year.
Other exceptions may apply in your state regarding the statute of limitations:
- For minors, the statute of limitations does not usually begin until they reach the age of 18. So, if a minor at the age of 16 suffers a personal injury in the state of Alabama, where the statute of limitations is two years, the minor effectively has four years to file their lawsuit.
- Anyone suffering from a mental disability may also have their deadline extended.
- If the party that caused your injury left the state after the accident, the “clock” on the deadline stops while they are out of state.
Most states will also apply their own exceptions in regards to medical malpractice cases or personal injury claims resulting from sexual assault.
In other cases, the statute of limitations may actually be shorter than the norm. In Texas, you only have six months to file a personal injury claim against various government bodies. Some local governments in Texas will take this a step further and shorten the deadline to as few as 45 days.
A General Overview of the Statutes of Limitation by State
While most states will have exceptions to the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit, there is a general guideline that can be followed. The table below includes the statute of limitations for each state, excluding exceptions that would apply to the above-mentioned cases. It’s always best to check with a personal injury lawyer in regards to the statute of limitations for your specific case and as regulated by your state. Schedule a consultation for as soon as possible if you have experienced a personal injury from an incident.
|State||Statute of Limitations|
|New Hampshire||3 years|
|New Jersey||2 years|
|New Mexico||3 years|
|New York||3 years|
|North Carolina||3 years|
|North Dakota||6 years|
|Rhode Island||3 years|
|South Carolina||3 years|
|South Dakota||3 years|
|West Virginia||2 years|
The Exceptions and Complexities of the Statute of Limitations
When you suffer a personal injury, it’s imperative that you begin filing your claim as soon as possible. All states will impose a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. While some states will give you as long as six years to file, some states only give you one year or even less. There are also several exceptions that can extend or possibly shorten your deadline. If you’re not sure if you can still file a personal injury claim, speak with a personal injury lawyer that you trust.