If you were the victim of an injury that was caused by someone else, you probably are wondering how you can be compensated for your injuries. Filing a lawsuit may be your best option to achieve exactly this. However, this raises the question of whether there is a time limit on filing a personal injury case. This is what the statute of limitations is, and this guide will explain it. Remember that you should always hire a personal injury lawyer, rather than trying to represent yourself. Your attorney will be able to answer all your questions.

The Statute of Limitations

Your time limit to file a lawsuit is called the statute of limitations. If the statute of limitations is two years, then you must file the lawsuit before two years have passed from the time of the injury. Remember, the statute of limitations is how long you have to file the lawsuit. It is not required that the case be resolved before the statute of limitations expires, or even that the lawsuit progressed to trial before that time.

The specific length of the statute of limitations depends on which state you live in and what kind of lawsuit you hope to file. For personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is almost always either two or three years. There are 10 states where the statute of limitations is one, four, five, or six years instead of two or three. This means it is always a good idea to do some research for your state, or speak to an attorney.

The Discovery Rule

If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations is expired, the case will almost certainly be thrown out. There is one major exception to this called the discovery rule. It applies only if:

  • The discovery of the injury was delayed
  • The discovery of the responsible party was delayed

For instance, you may have sustained a hairline fracture from a car accident, but not realized it until one year later. Or you may have been part of a hit-and-run, and it took one year to discover who the other driver was. In these cases, the statute of limitations does not begin until the discovery is made. So, if the statute of limitations was two years in the above examples, the victim would be able to file a lawsuit until three years after the accident. It is important to have a personal injury lawyer who fully understands this and all the other rules surrounding personal injury cases.