How Soon After I Am Injured Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 

A statute of limitations refers to state legal codes that set deadlines for initiating civil lawsuit in state courts.

If you are one of the 31 million Americans to have suffered an lawsuit injury due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another party, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation. However, personal injury claims are subject to strict filing deadlines known as statutes of limitations. Missing the deadline means losing your right to sue, so it is crucial to understand how soon you need to take legal action after an injury occurs. 

What is the Statute of Limitations? 

A statute of limitations refers to state legal codes that set deadlines for initiating civil lawsuits in state courts. The length of the statute of limitations varies by state and by the type of legal claim. For personal injury claims, statutes of limitations range from one to six years. However, most states impose a statute of limitations of two or three years. In general, the statute of limitations clock starts ticking on the date the injury or damage occurred. 

Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After the Deadline? 

In most cases, no. After the statute of limitations passes, the claim is barred and generally cannot proceed. The only exception is if your state law allows you to argue for an exception under special limiting doctrines like “equitable tolling” or “equitable estoppel”. These legal principles pause the countdown clock if misconduct by the defendant or extraordinary personal circumstances prevented you from acting sooner. 

However, meeting the conditions for these exceptions can be difficult. You typically need strong proof you did not unreasonably delay filing a suit. For this reason, it is best not to rely on an extension and instead aim to file as soon as reasonably possible. 

Key Steps to Preserve Your Injury Claim 

To make sure your right to seek injury compensation is protected, you should take proactive steps immediately after an accident: 

● Seek medical attention even if damage seems minor – falls and car accidents are highly likely to cause TBIs, which contribute to 69,000 deaths each year in the US. 

● Report the incident to insurance companies promptly to establish a record. 

● Consult an experienced personal injury attorney – Personal injury lawyers can assess your claim, evidence and options right away before memories and documents fade. They will also know the statute of limitations and can advise you on important deadlines. 

● Move quickly to gather evidence like photos of property damage, witness statements, police reports, receipts for expenses related to accident injuries, and surveillance footage if available. 

● Do not sign any releases or accept any settlement offers from insurance companies before discussing them with your attorney. You want to ensure you understand the full value of your legal claim before signing away rights. 

State Statutes of Limitations Examples 

Illustrate how much variation there can be between states, here are some examples of personal lawsuit injury statutes of limitations: 

● California – 2 years 

● Florida – 4 years 

● New Jersey – 2 years 

● New York – 3 years 

● Texas – 2 years 

● Washington – 3 years 

Some states make exceptions for minors to give them additional time to file as adults. This could account for adults filing a birth injury claim since this occurs in 7 out of every 1000 live births in the US. And a few states have special rules for certain types of cases. For example, medical malpractice claims may have longer or shorter deadlines. 

When you have been harmed due to another’s negligence, acting quickly to understand your legal rights is key. In most states, you will have between one and three years after the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. Use this critical window of time to build your claim strategically with help from a qualified personal injury attorney.

Also Read: Advantages of Hiring an Uncontested Divorce Lawyer

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