What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury?

statute of limitations for personal injury

If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in injuries, you might be able to seek compensation for your damages by filing a case in court. However, you need to initiate legal proceedings before the statute of limitations ends. If you wait beyond this period, you may lose your right to seek legal recourse.


What Is the Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law set in place by a legislative body to define how much time a party has to file a lawsuit. Once this period ends, any legal claim loses its validity. The statute of limitations varies based on the offense in question as well as the jurisdiction.

One of the main reasons for having a statute of limitations is to safeguard the interests of defendants from unmerited legal proceedings. This is because a considerable passage of time may lead to memories fading away and the loss of evidence.


What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in the U.S.?

The statute of limitations for personal injury in the U.S. comes into effect from the day the injury occurs. For example, if you were injured in a boating accident, the statute of limitations kicked in on the date of the accident.

How long do you have to sue someone after an incident? This depends on the state in which you reside, and here are a few examples.

  • Alabama – Two years
  • Colorado – Two years (three years for automobile accidents)
  • Florida – Four years
  • Kentucky – One year (two years for automobile accidents)
  • Maine – Six years
  • Nebraska – Four years
  • Tennessee – One year
  • Vermont – Three years

The statute of limitations works as a deadline by which you may file a personal injury lawsuit. So, what is the longest you can wait to sue someone? This depends on the time accorded to you by the statute of limitations. Bear in mind that certain exceptions might apply, so discussing the specifics of your case with a personal injury attorney or lawyer is ideal.


What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in NYC?

According to Chapter 8 Article 2 of the Consolidated Laws of New York, you need to commence any action related to a personal injury lawsuit within three years. If you fail to initiate legal proceedings within this period, you might lose your right to file a case.

What is the statute of limitations for personal injury

Can the Statute of Limitations Be Extended?

Can you sue after statute of limitations ends? Well, there are a few exceptions that might give you additional time to file a personal injury lawsuit. These come in the form of the discovery rule and tolling.


Discovery Rule

Most states, New York included, have a “discovery rule” that may apply to their statute of limitations. This rule can help extend the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit based on when you discover an injury or a condition. For example, if you recently discovered you have a trauma-induced brain lesion that occurred in a car accident a year ago, the statute of limitations begins from the date of your injury’s diagnosis.

While you can sue after statute of limitations ends in such scenarios, bear in mind that it might not be easy to prove the precise moment of discovery, especially if symptoms emerge gradually.



Tolling refers to delaying or pausing the statute of limitations, which might be possible in personal injury cases that fit the bill. This can be if a plaintiff is a minor or mentally incapacitated, or if a defendant leaves the state during the given timeframe.

  • Plaintiff is a minor or mentally incapacitated. If an injured person is less than 18 years of age or of unsound mind at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations comes into effect only after the lifting of the legal disability. This would be when the individual turns 18 or is mentally sound.
  • Defendant leaves the state. If a defendant leaves the state after an accident and before the filing of a lawsuit, it is possible to toll the statute of limitations for the duration the defendant spends outside the state. This is also the case if a defendant continues living in the state under a false name.


Suing the Government

If your personal injury case involves a government agency, there’s a good chance you get less-than-usual time to file a lawsuit. This is because sovereign immunity offers safeguards to most government agencies. This old law protects government agencies from lawsuits without their own consent.

While several jurisdictions across the U.S. have waived this immunity, you still need to follow stringent guidelines when filing personal injury lawsuits against government entities. For example, it is a common requirement for you to file a claim with the agency in question before you can file a lawsuit.

In New York, you get 90 days from the date of your injury to file a claim against a village, municipality, town, or city. If there is no resolution within 30 days of filing the claim or if you are unsatisfied with the resolution, you may file a lawsuit within one year and 90 days. In case you miss this deadline, there is little hope of you being able to get the compensation you seek from the agency in question.


Do You Need a Lawyer?

Personal injury litigation can be intimidating, all the more so if you’re nearing the end of the statute of limitations that applies to your case. With a lawyer by your side, you can rest easy knowing that the process will unfold in a time-bound manner. Besides, your lawyer can also determine if you might qualify for an extension, should the need arise.



Now that you know what the statute of limitations for personal injury is, make sure you don’t waste time in initiating legal proceedings. Bear in mind that once this period ends, so does your right to seek legal recourse. If you’re wondering how best to proceed or want to find out if you might qualify for an extension, consider contacting a personal injury lawyer at the earliest.