How Long Is Too Long? Statutes Of Limitations And Your Personal Injury Case

Posted on: 1 May 2023

Many personal injury victims file a claim and/or lawsuit fairly quickly after they are harmed by another party. However, there are also times when it's better for a victim to wait some time. And sometimes, a victim is forced by circumstances to wait. 

If you're in one of the latter categories, you need to know how the statute of limitations affects your ability to bring a lawsuit. What is the statute of limitations? Why might you delay filing? And what exceptions exist? Here's what you need to know. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

Each legal jurisdiction, including at the state level, specifies a deadline for filing a lawsuit over an accident. Personal injury claims as a category will have a general deadline in your state, which often ranges from as little as a year to as many as ten years. 

For instance, Kansas allows a plaintiff two years to start a personal injury claim while North Dakota permits up to six years. If you miss these deadlines, your lawsuit is likely to be denied. 

When Are Statutes of Limitations Extended?

There are some exceptions to the general statutes of limitations. While each state varies, many provide extensions if the victim was a minor or had a mental incapacity at the time. And if the defendant party left the jurisdiction for a period, this may pause the filing clock. 

And some victims are not aware of their personal injury or that the defendant caused it until after the statute of limitations has expired. If you were exposed to a chemical at work but only developed a related chronic illness after retiring, you may be allowed to sue your employer after the fact. 

Is It Ever Right to Wait?

The answer to avoiding statute of limitations issues, of course, is to file a lawsuit promptly. However, this isn't always the right answer either. 

Why? You may need time to investigate the accident on your own to determine who may be liable. A defect in a car that crashed, for example, may not be obvious until serious research is done. But suing the manufacturer could be better than suing a poor driver. 

Any victim should also bring up their lawsuits once they have a better understanding of all their current and future costs. You don't know what to negotiate or sue for if you don't know the full extent of your financial loss. 

Finally, a victim might prefer to wait until they have some distance from their accident and any emotional and physical injuries. Trials are stressful and time-consuming. So you may have more success if you wait until you're ready to handle it all. 

Where Should You Start?

Look at this website to find out more about the specific statutes of limitations applicable to your case or to contact a personal injury lawyer in your state today.