Statutes of limitations exist to impose restrictions on how long a plaintiff has to bring their case to court. These deadlines are beneficial for all parties because they help to ensure that the evidence is fresher and more reliable.
The time limit outlined in a statute of limitations typically starts the day the action in question is committed, and it will vary for each state and for each type of offense. It’s important to talk to an attorney if you believe you have grounds for a lawsuit so they can help you figure out if you are within the statute of limitations in Washington, D.C., and what your legal options may be.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in D.C.?
For most personal injury and negligence cases, the D.C. statute of limitations is three years. However, there are exceptions that may affect your specific case, so it’s important to consult a lawyer who can accurately calculate the statute of limitations in Washington, D.C., for your claim.
The D.C. statute of limitations for fraud states that the plaintiff must bring the case to court within three years of the date the fraud occurred or the date the plaintiff discovered the act in question. (Diamond v. Davis, 680 A.2d 364, 381 (D.C. Ct. App. 1996))
“Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, actions for the following purposes may not be brought after the expiration of the period specified below from the time the right to maintain the action accrues: …
“(8) for which a limitation is not otherwise specially prescribed — 3 years” (D.C. Code § 12-301)
“An action pursuant to this chapter shall be brought by and in the name of the personal representative of the deceased person and within 2 years after the death of the person injured.” (D.C. Code § 16-2702)
“A medical malpractice claim does not accrue until the patient has discovered or reasonably should have discovered all of the essential elements of her possible cause of action.” (Colbert v. Georgetown Univ., 641 A. 2d 469, 473-73 (D.C. Ct. App. 1994))
Product liability claims fall under the same statute as negligence claims. In addition, the discovery rule applies:
“The statute of limitations will not run until plaintiffs know or reasonably should have known that they suffered injury due to the defendants’ wrongdoing.” (Doe v. Medlantic Health Care Group Inc., 814 A. 2d 939, 945 (D.C. Ct. App. 2003))
Other Relevant Statutes
Cases to Recover Land: 15 years
Injury From Toxic Substances: Five years from discovery
Injury or Death Due to Asbestos Exposure: One year from discovery that the injury was caused by exposure to asbestos.
Sexual Abuse: No time limit
Statutes of Repose
Construction Defects: Ten years from substantial completion of improvement to real property (D.C. Code § 12-310)
Product Liability: None
Municipal Liability/Sovereign Immunity
Legal action against the District of Columbia requires notice in writing to the mayor within six months of the injury or police report.
A statute of limitations runs from when the injury was or should have been discovered.
The District of Columbia does not have a comparative negligence rule.
Charitable organizations are not immune to prosecution.
The statute of limitations runs from the date of removal of a plaintiff’s legal disability. For children, this is their 18th birthday.
Punitive damages are not allowed.
No-fault rules are in effect in D.C.
Consumer Fraud Complaints
Direct consumer fraud complaints to the Office of the Attorney General online or by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at (202) 442-9828.