Personal Injury Statute of Limitations by State, Plus Exceptions

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations by State, Plus Exceptions


Are you trying to file a personal injury claim? If you feel like you have a valid case after an accident, it is crucial to understand and pay attention to the relevant state’s statute of limitations. Below are the personal injury statute of limitations by state, as well as the important exceptions that may apply to your case.


So, How Does the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Work?

All states in the United States have passed statutes of limitations to outline the strict deadline people have to file personal injury lawsuits in the state’s civil court system. Different states have different statutes of limitations, especially when it comes to the nature of the injury (including slip and fall accidents).


For example, Louisiana’s personal injury statute of limitations is 1 year, while Maine’s is 6 years. It is necessary to know the statute of limitations in your state because your case will almost certainly be dismissed if you file a claim after the deadline has passed.


Usually, the statute of limitations starts running from the day the slip and fall accident/personal injury occurred.


Personal Injury Statute of Limitations by State

  • Alabama — 2 years
  • Alaska — 2 years
  • Arizona — 2 years
  • Arkansas — 3 years
  • California — 2 years
  • Colorado — 2 years; 3 years for claims involving motor vehicles
  • Connecticut — 2 years
  • Delaware — 2 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
  • Kentucky — 1 year; 2 years for claims involving motor vehicles
  • Louisiana — 1 year
  • Maine — 6 years
  • Maryland — 3 years
  • Massachusetts — 3 years
  • Michigan — 3 years; 1 year for PIP claims
  • Minnesota — 2 years
  • Mississippi — 3 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


Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations: the “Discovery Rule”

There is an exception to every rule, which is also the case with the statute of limitations. Under the so-called “discovery rule,” you can be subject to an exception to the deadline for filing a personal injury claim. The rule is valid in case the injured person did not know or had no reasonable way of knowing, that:


  • The potential defendant’s actions may have caused the injury in question
  • They suffered an injury


Let’s look at an example to simplify this. Let’s say you live in California. The personal injury statute of limitations in California is 2 years. However, California is one of the states that apply the discovery rule, which states that the statute of limitations does not begin running until the date the plaintiff:

1) knew or had sufficient reason to notice the cause of the harm;

2) knew or had sufficient reason to notice that they were injured.


In other words, you may notice the cause or experience symptoms many years after the personal injury has occurred (eg. minor blows to the head causing a lesion years later or long-term effects from hazardous substances). You would still be able to file a personal injury claim if you can prove the injury resulted from the accident and you had no way of discovering it sooner.


Ways to Extend the Standard Deadline

In addition to the “discovery rule,” there are several other ways to extend the standard statute of limitations in your state. For example, if the defendant has left the state for a period of time following the accident they have caused (that caused your injury), the statute of limitations “clock” may pause in most states.


If, for example, the statute of limitations in your state was two years, and the defendant left the state for a year after the accident, then the statute of limitations would be extended by one more year in your case. Of course, you will have to verify that this applies to your state.


Another reason to extend the deadline may be if your claim falls under special lawsuit-filing rules (e.g., the plaintiff is a minor, mentally ill, or under the age of 18).


If you have any questions about the personal injury statute of limitations in California or any other state, be sure to turn to an experienced attorney.


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Personal Injury FAQ

The official definition of personal injury is when someone has sustained an injury to the body, mind, or psyche caused by another person’s failure to execute reasonable care. If the negligence of another person has led to your injuries, you might be entitled to some kind of compensation. Getting in contact with an attorney is crucial at this point to determine whether or not legal action should be taken.
Trying to decide whether or not you have a case shouldn’t be something you do on your own. Contacting an attorney and getting a free consultation is ideal to evaluate your situation in great detail. Your attorney will tell you who you can sue, what you can expect to get in terms of compensation, and more information based on the facts of the accident as well as the laws in your state.
On average, personal injury case expenses are 20% of the amount recovered and can range from $10,000 to $100,000. Some might even go beyond this average, depending on the instances. It’s crucial to work with a law firm that specializes in your specific type of case.
Since each case is different and will require various negotiations, details involved, etc., the time it takes to resolve each case can differ. On average, it can take from 6 months to a few years to settle. Not all cases will go to trial. A large majority of them will end in a settlement involving the defendant or the insurance company. However, the time that it will take to reach this settlement can be tough to determine, and it can range quite a bit. A claim that involves substantial injuries and a significant amount of money can often take longer to settle because the insurer will likely fight harder to avoid settling. If your case is complex or the liability is unclear, the settlement can also take longer. When you hire an attorney, you might be able to speed up the process because you’ll likely motivate the insurer to settle fairly earlier since they’ll be less likely to take advantage of you.
If you were partly at fault for the injuries, the damages you can recover would vary state-to-state. Some states use contributory negligence, which means that a victim will not be able to recover damages if they had any fault in the situation. Other states will allow you to recover damages if you were not 50% or more at fault. When it comes to what happens if you’re at fault, the rules are technical and very state-specific, which is why you should consult with an attorney after reading this FAQ.
The most common type of damage is referred to as compensatory damages. This is divided into non-economic and economic damages. ● Economic Damages: These are considered to be tangible objective costs and losses such as medical bills, property damage, lost income and earning capacity, cost of future treatments. ● Non-Economic Damages: These are considered to be more subjective and cover items like pain and suffering, lost enjoyment of life, and mental anguish. Damages have to be reasonably quantifiable, instead of speculative, to be awarded. If the defendant in the case has acted egregiously as the victim, you might be able to recover punitive damages as well as compensatory damages. These damages punish the defendant and deter the type of conduct. While rarely awarded, punitive damages can be substantial, but there are constitutional limits.
After you’ve been injured, you might wonder how long you have to file your case. This can depend on the specific statute of limitations in your state. Most personal injury cases will have to be filed within a year of the accident; however, you have as many as 4 years to file in some states. Check the rules in your state and be sure not to waive your rights accidentally. There are exceptions to the statute of limitations, but they can be quite narrow. In most cases, you should pursue your claim as soon as possible so that the evidence is still fresh and it can help you prove liability as well as the scope of the damage.