Is There a Time Limit to File a Lawsuit?

Filing a Lawsuit

Unfortunately, sometimes people are injured by the actions of other people. If this happens to you, you probably have a lot on your mind. You probably know you want compensation for the injury that was not your fault, but you are currently focusing on getting better and achieving stability for you and your family. However, in the back of your mind you might be worried about waiting too long to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you are due. Is there a time limit to file a lawsuit? This guide will provide you with all the information you need.

The Statute of Limitations

It is important to know that there is a time limit to file a lawsuit. It is called the statute of limitations. Essentially, the statute of limitations begins counting down from when you are injured. If you do not file your lawsuit before it expires, the lawsuit will likely be thrown out. Remember, the statute of limitations is just your time limit to file a lawsuit. The lawsuit does not need to conclude before the statute of limitations expires.

So how long is the statute of limitations? Its exact length depends on what kind of lawsuit you want to file and what state you live in. For personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations is most commonly either two or three years. If you live in a state where it is not two or three years, it will either be one, four, five, or six years. That means the absolute shortest amount of time you could possibly have to file is one year, and the longest is six years.

The Discovery Rule

There are very few exceptions to the statute of limitations. Simply put, if you file after it is expired, you are out of luck. There may be a special exception in your state, however. You should speak with an attorney to learn more.

There is only one major exception that is universally true across all states, called the “discovery rule.” It states that the statute of limitations does not start counting down until the identity of the person who caused your injury — or the injury itself — is discovered. Here are some examples of how this might work:

  • You are injured in a hit and run and do not discover the identity of the other driver for two years.
  • You are injured in a workplace accident and do not realize your finger is broken for six months.

Always speak with a personal injury lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer in St. Paul, MN, before you do anything else.

Thanks to Johnston & Martineau, PLLP for their insight into how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit.