Statutes of limitation determine how long you have to file a lawsuit. In the case of personal injury litigation, the type of injury, the state the injury occurred in, and the identity of the defendant, are some of the factors used to determine the length of time you have in which to file a lawsuit. This website is intended to help you understand your state’s statute of limitations for various personal injury case types. For more up-to-the-minute information on breaking legal news, click on www.yourlawyer.com and follow any of the links that may be of interest or relevance to you.
Why Statutes of Limitations Vary:
Factors Affecting the Statutes of Limitations:Was the conduct involved intentional or negligent? Intentional torts usually have shorter statutes of limitation than do torts involving negligent conduct.Will the claim be based upon medical malpractice? Over the past several years, most jurisdictions have substantially shortened the statutes of limitation applicable to medical malpractice while NOT making similar changes for cases involving other types of professional malpractice. Thus, in the very same jurisdiction, claims against attorneys, accountants, architects, or even some other types of health professionals might have longer statutes of limitation than do claims against medical doctors, dentists, or hospitals.Does the case involve an allegedly defective product? Many variations apply to such cases and often depend upon how long the defect existed.Was the discovery of the injury delayed? Often, injuries caused by toxic substances, defective drugs, and medical malpractice take months, or even years, to manifest themselves. The law usually makes allowance for such situations by providing for additional time in which to commence a lawsuit.Does the case involve some governmental body or agency? States, counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, transportation authorities, departments of correction, parks and sanitation departments, state and municipal hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and other “municipal” entities are invariably given extraordinary protection when it comes to being sued. This may include requiring some form of written “notice of claim,” a much shorter statute of limitations than those applicable to non-governmental defendants, and immunity from certain types of lawsuits as well as punitive damages.Does the claim involve a charitable organization? In some states, charitable organizations still enjoy immunity from suit. In others, that immunity has been abolished. There are also some jurisdictions where the immunity applies to certain types of cases and not to others. Is the plaintiff an infant or suffering from some type of disability such as insanity or mental illness? In most jurisdictions, such conditions will “toll” statutes of limitations to some degree.Does some other toll apply that would extend the statute of limitations? There are other situations which act to toll statutes of limitation such as foreign objects left in the body during medical procedures.In what jurisdiction will the action be brought? Each state as well as Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands have their own specific statutes of limitation which vary widely. There are also different tolls and rules involving municipalities in every jurisdiction.What are the permissible damages? Although the amount of damages allowable does not affect the statute of limitations, it does determine how much may be sued for, or recovered in particular situations. This might influence where an action is brought if it is possible that another jurisdiction is an available alternative. Many jurisdictions place restrictions on the amount that may be recovered from municipalities or charitable organizations, or for medical malpractice, wrongful death, or other specific types of cases. There are also many different rules which apply to punitive, or “exemplary,” damages in terms of how they are calculated, when (or if) they are permitted, and what, if any, limits apply to them.
Parker Waichman LLP has made every effort to provide accurate, up-to-date information. However, statutes in each jurisdiction may be amended, repealed, modified, or otherwise changed at any time by the legislature of that jurisdiction.
In addition, the courts of each state may clarify statutes or declare them unconstitutional. The United States Supreme Court may also declare state statutes unconstitutional under certain circumstances.
All of these possibilities, and more, create the potential for any of the information provided herein to change, without notice, at any time. As a result, the information on this website should be used as a general reference and for comparison purposes only and should not take the place of a timely consultation with an attorney. (See, for example, the definition of “accrual” below.)
You may also want to consult the local Bar Association in the state or jurisdiction in which you plan to pursue a legal action. For a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys, please click here to fill out a short form.
If you are aware of recent changes in a state’s statute of limitations, please fill out our short feedback form so that we may keep the site and our readers informed. We appreciate your feedback.