How Long Do I Have to File My Personal Injury Case?

Last updated on: September 20, 2022

When tending to an injury caused by an accident your responsibilities may become overwhelming. From medical treatment and bills to repairing property or other damage, it’s easy to feel hopeless when filing a compensation claim on your injuries. Getting a lawyer might sound like a big step that seems unnecessary, but even in small claims a lawyer can help get you adequate compensation; sometimes more than you would even think.  

However, most legal actions have a statute of limitations. This means that lawsuits cannot be filed for your injury whenever you want. After a period of time, when the statute of limitations expires, you will no longer be able to pursue a lawsuit even if there is still evidence and you are still suffering from the injury.

For a free case evaluation with an experienced personal injury lawyer call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312.

Do You Need to Wait Before Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

If you have to incur medical treatment or repairs, you may be wondering if you should wait until you are finished with these things before filing your claim. However, this is not the case—in most cases, the statute of limitation begins as soon as the accident occurs. It’s advised you don’t wait until all bills are paid, getting on top of these bills can in a claim can be a vital piece of evidence in your case.  

When Should You File Your Personal Injury Case?

While the law gives you a year or more to file your personal injury case, it is best to do so as soon as possible. The sooner you file the case, the more you are protected from running up against the statute of limitations and having your case thrown out of court.

In addition, the sooner you are able to file your claim, the more time your lawyer has to prepare a legal strategy for obtaining the claim you deserve. If your lawyer can get to work for you soon after the accident or injury that occurred, they are more likely to have access to evidence and witnesses helpful to your claim.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases?

A statute of limitations puts a limit on the amount of time that a party has to file a legal action. Statutes of limitation apply to almost all legal actions, with a few exceptions such as serious criminal offenses.

The reason for a statute of limitations is to limit legal actions based on extremely old events to be brought to court because of the difficulty of litigating these sorts of events. The legal system wants to encourage lawsuits to be brought as soon as possible after the events have occurred, because there is a higher chance of getting an accurate result based on what actually happened. Evidence can be lost or witnesses can forget what they saw, or even pass away, if years and years pass before a case is brought to court.

Typically, each type of legal action has a different type of statute of limitations attached to it. Personal injury lawsuits have statutes of limitations, and these vary by state. 

Maine and North Dakota’s statutes of limitation for personal injury lawsuits are the longest at six years, whereas other states such as Louisiana and Tennessee give plaintiffs only one year to file. However, most states have their statute of limitations around two and three years.

How Can I Know the Statute of Limitations in My State?

It is recommended that you speak to a lawyer as soon as possible after your accident or injury to get an accurate understanding of how statutes of limitations apply to your case. Not all information on Internet legal sites are up to date or correct, and state statutes can be long and difficult to parse if you are not a legal professional. 

In addition, some states differentiate between specific personal injuries. For example, damage to property and injury to persons might have different statutes of limitations in the same state. Other states distinguish between types of harm, such as car accidents versus other injuries. A lawyer will have practiced personal injury law in this jurisdiction and know all of the intricacies of your state as they apply to your situation.

Can You Get an Extension on the Statute of Limitations?

It is possible to get an extension on a statute of limitations. Many states have what is called a ‘discovery rule,’ which allows the injured individual to file a claim after the statute of limitations has run if they can establish that they were reasonably unaware either that they were injured, or that the at-fault party caused their injury by their actions.

This provision allows people to file claims for injuries that might take years to manifest, such as asbestos, lead poisoning, or exposure to dangerous substances. These situations can seriously impact an individual’s health, but the conditions associated with such exposure could take years to manifest. In that case, the statute of limitations could be extended, and would usually begin to run again at the time you learn of your condition.

In other cases, some states will extend the statute of limitations of a case if the plaintiff is a minor or is otherwise unable to make all of his own legal decisions. Another situation which could delay the statute of limitations is obstruction of process. A defendant needs to be served with papers informing him of a lawsuit, but if he takes drastic steps to avoid this process, such as fleeing the country, a court may decide to extend the statute of limitations until the papers can be given to the defendant.

It’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible in a personal injury case. But even if time has passed since your injury you should still consult with a lawyer because there may be an exception to the statute of limitations that applies to your case. 

At Zinda Law Group, you can schedule a free case consultation with our experienced personal injury lawyers.

Need Help? Contact Zinda Law Group Today

If you or a loved one has been injured, call Zinda Law Group today to learn if your case is subject to statutory limitation. The lawyers at Zinda Law Group have successfully achieved compensation for their clients in many personal injury cases, and will be able to help you determine how the statute of limitations in your state applies to your case. 

In addition, Zinda Law Group uses a No-Win, No-Fee contingency agreement, which means you will pay nothing unless you receive a favorable verdict in your case.

Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.