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How long do I have to file a personal injury case?

If you are involved in an accident and suffer injuries, you may be more concerned about recovering your health than thinking about the clock that is ticking on the time for you to file a personal injury claim. However, it is vitally important to be aware that there is, in fact, a time limit for you to file a lawsuit in these cases, after which it would be impossible for you to do so. This statute of limitations applies to car accidents and to slip and falls, dog bites, medical malpractice, product liability, and many others.

The time limit set by the statute of limitations starts to run the moment the accident happens, although, in some cases, it may start later because your injuries were not apparent from the beginning and were only discovered then.

Are there any exceptions to the statute of limitations?

There are exceptions that vary by state. They apply to cases where:

  • The individual who suffered the injury is a minor
  • Whoever was injured is mentally incapacitated
  • The person being sued (the defendant) has been out of the state for a certain period after the accident.

What are the time limitations for these lawsuits?

Depending on the state where you live, the time frame for personal injury claims may run between 1 and 6 years. In Arizona, for example, it is two years, while in Florida, it stands at 4, and in Maine at 6. If you live in Kentucky or Louisiana, you better act quickly since their statute of limitations is only one year.

For more accurate information, check the statute of limitations of the state where you live.

How long after the accident should you file your claim?

Even though the statute of limitations is running, it is wise for you not to settle until you have received enough medical treatment or have healed enough to comprehend the impact these injuries will have on your life. Only then will you have a clear picture of the situation and know how much compensation you should demand. Get the process started as soon as possible to prevent issues with the statute of limitations but don’t be too quick to settle.

What is a maximum medical improvement, and why does it matter?

Figuring out when you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement is a must before deciding to accept a settlement offer either from the insurance adjuster or from the defendant. MMI means that you are as healthy as you are expected to be as a result of your injuries or that your personal injury lawyer has a sufficiently clear idea as to the value of your damages as they relate to whatever future medical care you will require and how much that is expected to cost.

This does not mean that you should start the process once you have reached your MMI since this could leave you with a very small window to file. It just means that you should be aware of the value of your damages before resolving your case.

Read more at wattelandyork.com to understand the impact MMI can have on the final settlement amount and on how to prepare the most robust case when you file strategically.


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