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How long do I have to file a personal injury case?

If you have been injured by the negligence of another person, business, or entity, assuming you have a valid personal injury claim, you will have a specific amount of time or a statute of limitations for filing your personal injury lawsuit. Not only is there a specific amount of time in each state, the type of personal injury claim can also affect the time limit.

Whether you have a car accident case, medical malpractice claim, premise liability case, product liability claim or a slander case if you fail to file your claim within the state's specific statute of limitations for that type of claim, you may lose your right to compensation.

For instance, in the state of Texas you will have two years to file personal injury case, but in Vermont you have three years and in Utah you will have four years. What if you have a breach of contract and you live in the state of Alabama? You will have six years to file your case. In Alaska you will only have three years. Most statute of limitations for personal injury claims range from one to six years.

Tolling of the Statute of Limitations

Although the statute of limitations is the general rule, there are some factors which may allow the statute of limitations to be extended. For instance, there are some medical malpractice claims where the patient may not know they are injured for several years. For example, if a plaintiff had surgery and the surgeon left a sponge in the patient's body but the patient did not realize it until years later, state law may allow the statute of limitations to begin when the patient realizes they have suffered injury, rather than the date of the surgery.

Other cases where the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or stopped for a period of time include injuries to a minor. In some states if a minor is injured the statute of limitations will not begin until the minor turns 18 years of age.

What do I do immediately following a personal injury?

If you have suffered a personal injury it's important to immediately get good medical care. Next, you may want to talk to a personal injury lawyer or research your state's personal injury laws. Although you may have several years to file your injury case, experts suggest the sooner you file the better. Not only will you potentially receive compensation more quickly, but as time passes it will be more difficult to find evidence, including witnesses who have information about your claim.