How Long do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
By Mary Ann Pekara
The amount of time you have between suffering an injury and filing a personal injury lawsuit varies by state and by claim. Thus, the time limit for a police brutality lawsuit may be three years in one state and five years in another.
One way to learn the time limit, which is known as a statute of limitation, for your injury is to contact a local injury attorney familiar with the laws. To connect with a lawyer in your area for a free consultation, simply fill out the brief form below.
When Does the Clock Start After a Personal Injury?
In most states and with most injuries, the time limit begins immediately after a person suffers the injury. So, if a person slips and falls on a slippery restaurant floor and breaks her arm, the clock on her slip and fall injury lawsuit starts on that day.
There is, however, a key exception that allows a person to start the clock for the relevant statute of limitation on the “date of discovery.” Here’s how this might work:
- John Q. Public slips down the stairwell of his favorite pizza restaurant because a disgruntled chef left a large calzone sitting on the top step.
- John does not feel much pain and continues to enjoy his meal.
- He does not think about the incident until 2 months later, when a routine physical reveals a serious spleen injury for which John had not yet felt symptoms.
- In this case, the statute of limitations for John’s potential lawsuit against the restaurant may not start until John learns of his injury from the physical examination.
In the scenario above, if John had fractured his leg and suffered severe pain for two months, he could not start his clock two months after the accident because he already knew the fall had caused an injury.
An injured person’s reasonable knowledge of the time at which their injury occurs can be the key to when the statute of limitations starts.
How Long do I Have to File a Lawsuit Against the Government?
Most personal injury claims are governed by statutes of limitation ranging from a year to several years. Some claims, though, have much shorter time periods.
A key example of a rapid statute of limitation occurs in lawsuits against the government. Important features of these claims include:
- Many lawsuits against local or state governments begin as administrative claims.
- Administrative agencies may require an individual to file a claim within as little as 60 days of the injury.
- If the agency rejects a claim, the letter of denial will usually list the amount of time a person has before they must complain to an official court.
Again, statutes of limitations differ by state and by claim. Therefore, you may want to act quickly and speak with a lawyer soon. What begins as a minor injury could turn into something more serious down the road. But if you wait to take action you could be left with few options.
Get a free case evaluation with a local injury attorney
today to learn more information about how long you have to file a lawsuit.