Is There a Time Limit to File a Lawsuit?

If you have been injured — either in a car accident, by medical malpractice, or in a slip and fall at a place of business — you might be considering filing a lawsuit, and may wonder how much time you have to make that happen. In most instances, the statute of limitations allows plaintiffs two years from the date of an injury to file a lawsuit, although those dates differ from state to state. Some states, for example, allow three or more years to file.

If your claim is against a federal entity, however, the time you have to file shrinks considerably. Be sure to contact a personal injury lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer in West Palm Beach, FL, as soon as possible if you are seeking to file against federally-owned public transportation, a school, or another type of federal entity. For all cases that don’t fall under federal legislation, let’s take a look at how rules vary from state to state. 

Personal injury statutes of limitations by state are: 

Alabama: 2 years from the date of injury

Alaska: 2 years

Arizona: 2 years

Arkansas: 3 years

California: 2 years

Colorado: 2 years, unless the injuries are the result of a motor vehicle accident. In that case, suits can be filed 3 years after the date of injury

Connecticut: 2 years

Delaware: 2 years

District of Columbia: 3 years

Florida: 4 years

Georgia: 2 years

Hawaii: 2 years

Idaho: 2 years

Illinois: 2 years

Indiana: 2 years

Iowa: 2 years

Kansas: 2 years

Louisiana: 1 year

Maine: 6 years

Maryland: 3 years

Massachusetts: 3 years

Michigan: 3 years

Minnesota: 2 years

Mississippi: 2 years

Missouri: 5 years

Montana: 3 years

Nebraska: 4 years

Nevada: 2 years

New Hampshire: 3 years

New Jersey: 2 years

New Mexico: 3 years

New York: 3 years

North Carolina: 3 years

North Dakota: 6 years

Ohio: 2 years

Oklahoma: 2 years

Oregon: 2 years

Pennsylvania: 2 years

Rhode Island: 3 years

South Carolina: 3 years

South Dakota: 3 years

Tennessee: 1 year

Texas: 2 years

Utah: 4 years

Vermont: 3 years

Virginia: 2 years

Washington: 3 years

West Virginia: 2 years

Wisconsin: 3 years

Wyoming: 4 years

Oral and written contracts and property damage cases all have different statutes of limitations in which to file, so check with your attorney to find out how much time you have to gather together the necessary paperwork to file a suit.

When does my time limit begin?

In most cases, the statute of limitations kicks in at the time of the injury, such as the date of a car accident or a fall. In other cases, however — such as if a doctor fails to remove a surgical instrument or a sponge during surgery — you may not know at the time of the incident itself that negligence has occurred. In cases such as those, the statute of limitations begins when the medical malpractice is discovered. If you realize that there might be a problem, however, and wait to seek the opinion of a second doctor, the date of discovery – which kicks off the statute of limitations period – may be moved back because you failed to take action in a timely manner.

Thanks to The Law Office of Eric H. Luckman, P.A. for their insight into the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit.