June 19, 2024

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The Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases: Time Constraints and Exceptions

Personal injury cases can be complex and overwhelming, especially for those who have never been involved in a legal dispute before. In order to have a successful case, it is important to understand the various laws and regulations that govern personal injury claims. One of the most crucial aspects of any personal injury case is the statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations refers to the time period within which a person must file a lawsuit or claim in court. If this time period is exceeded, the case will likely be dismissed and the injured party will not be able to seek compensation for their injuries. This is why it is crucial to understand the different time constraints and exceptions that may apply in personal injury cases.

Time Constraints

The statute of limitations can vary depending on the type of personal injury case and the state in which it is being filed. However, there are generally five common time constraints that apply to most personal injury cases:

Two-year Statute of Limitations

This is the most common statute of limitations for personal injury cases, and it applies to cases such as car accidents, slip and fall accidents, and product liability claims. This means that the injured party has two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit or claim.

One-year Statute of Limitations

Some states have a shorter statute of limitations for specific types of personal injury cases, such as medical malpractice and wrongful death claims. In these cases, the injured party only has one year from the date of the injury or death to file a lawsuit.

Discovery Rule

In some cases, an injured party may not discover their injuries until months or even years after the incident. In these situations, the statute of limitations may be extended based on when the injury was discovered rather than when it occurred.

Tolling of Statute of Limitations

There are certain situations where the statute of limitations may be temporarily suspended, known as tolling. This can happen if the injured party is a minor at the time of the incident, is mentally incapacitated, or if the defendant has left the state.

Government Claims

When filing a claim against a government entity, there may be different time constraints and procedures that must be followed. It is important to consult with an attorney who has experience in government claims to ensure that all deadlines are met.


While the statute of limitations is generally strict, there are some exceptions that may allow for a case to be filed after the time period has expired. These include:

Continuous Treatment Rule

In cases where the injured party received ongoing treatment for their injuries, the statute of limitations may not begin until the treatment has ended.

Fraud or Concealment

If the defendant fraudulently concealed information related to the incident, the statute of limitations may be extended.

Injuries to Minors

For cases involving minors, such as car accidents or medical malpractice, the statute of limitations may not begin until the minor turns 18 years old.

It is important to note that these exceptions may vary by state and case, so it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can advise on specific time constraints and exceptions that may apply in a personal injury case.

Understanding the statute of limitations and its various time constraints and exceptions is essential when pursuing a personal injury case. Failing to file a lawsuit within the allotted time period can result in a loss of legal rights and the ability to seek compensation for damages. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the legal process and ensure that all deadlines are met. Don’t let your opportunity for justice slip away – know your rights and act within the statute of limitations.