What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury?

Personal injuries come in many forms, and when you’re dealing with an injury, you deserve to be compensated by the individual or entity that caused the damage. You can’t wait too long before deciding whether to file a lawsuit, as there is a law that puts a time limit on it. This is called the statute of limitations.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Begin?

The statute of limitations doesn’t start when you decide you want to file a lawsuit, and you really don’t have a say in it at all. Every state has different guidelines, and there are a lot of different things that might start the process, but the following are three common times when the statute begins:

  1. The date of the accident – If you are injured in an accident, and it’s obvious from the moment of the accident that you suffered injuries, the statute might begin that day.
  2. The date you realized there was an injury – There’s a chance you won’t know you have an injury until a later time. For example, you might be in a car accident but walk away from it without any pain. A few weeks later, you could suffer a reaction to internal bleeding. The statute might begin the day you discover you were internally bleeding because of your accident.
  3. The date you should have realized there was an injury – This isn’t a common occurrence, but sometimes the statute begins on the date when you should have realized there was an injury. For example, at the scene of your accident, you may have been in a lot of pain, but chose to forego medical care. A few weeks later, you might realize you are dealing with an internal injury. The statute might begin on the date of your accident.

How Long Is the Statute of Limitations?

Each state chooses how long the statute of limitations will be for each type of lawsuit. For example, in California, the statute for personal injury is two years, but a breach of written contract holds a statute of limitations of four years. The statutes often vary by state as well. For example, in Kentucky, personal injury cases that don’t involve a motor vehicle have a statute of limitations of only one year. In Maine, personal injury cases of any type have a statute of six years.

Contacting Your Lawyer

If you plan to sue someone after sustaining a personal injury, you shouldn’t wait too long. The statute of limitations does exist, and you may not have accurate information for when you have to file your claim. Contact a personal injury lawyer, to learn more about whether you have a case and to see what needs to be done to get started.