How Long Do You Have To File Your Personal Injury Claim?

(Please note that this is based on personal injury law in the US; in the UK usually there is usually a three year period (‘triennium’) within which personal injury claims should be made) Have you heard the term “statute of limitations?”  Do you know what it means and how it applies to personal injury cases?  Personal injury attorneys can help you determine the statute of limitations that apply to your particular case and help you file any necessary pleadings before the deadline is reached.

Basically, a statute of limitations, or “law of limitations,” is a written state or federal code that designates a time period in which a citizen can file a criminal complaint or a civil action.  This time period varies greatly depending on the type of case under discussion.  For example, you may have heard the saying that “murder has no statute of limitations.”  This is true in most cases; murder is such a heinous crime that any evidence brought to light, even seventy-five years after the death, should lead to an arrest if it is possible to find the person who committed the crime.  On the other hand, some criminal or civil matters have statutes of limitations as short as six months, primarily because the damage that would come from not filing an action or a charge would be so minimal that the loss of it would not hurt the victim much, in the court’s opinion.

For personal injury cases, a standard “statute of limitations” is two years.  This means that for many personal injury matters, victims have two years from the date of the injury to file a claim.  If they do not file within that time period, they lose the right to file at all.  This prevents someone from suing you for something that happened twenty years ago when you have no way of proving your side of the story after such a long lapse of time.

However, the two-year statute of limitations has so many exceptions that it is hardly set in stone.  The time period allowed to file a personal injury claim can change given the age of the victim, the circumstances of the accident, whether criminal activity was involved, or due to any number of other reasons.

Never assume that you have two years in which to file a personal injury claim.  In fact, never assume that you have any length of time at all.  It is important to talk to personal injury lawyers about your case not only to avoid running afoul of the statutory deadline, but also to prevent trouble for your attorney in collecting evidence about your case.

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