Personal Injury Statute of Limitations by State

Navigating the legal landscape of personal injury can be daunting. One of the most crucial aspects to understand is the statute of limitations. This legal deadline dictates how long you have to file a lawsuit after suffering a personal injury. Missing this window can mean forfeiting your right to seek compensation, regardless of the injury’s severity or the clear liability of the other party.

In the U.S., these statutes vary significantly from one state to another. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the personal injury statute of limitations for each state, ensuring you’re equipped with the knowledge to take timely action.

Whether you’re a victim seeking justice, a legal professional brushing up on state-specific rules, or simply curious about the topic, this guide is designed to be your go-to resource.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a legal term that refers to the maximum period an individual has to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense. In the context of personal injury, it’s the timeframe within which you must file a lawsuit after suffering an injury due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act.

Why Do We Have Them?

Statutes of limitations serve several essential purposes:

  1. Fairness to the Defendant: Over time, evidence can be lost, memories can fade, and witnesses might become unavailable. Setting a limit ensures that defendants aren’t unfairly disadvantaged by old claims.
  2. Legal Certainty: It provides a sense of closure and certainty. After a certain period, individuals or entities can be assured that they won’t face litigation for past events.
  3. Encouraging Prompt Action: It incentivizes those with valid claims to pursue them promptly and not delay seeking justice.

Consequences of Missing the Deadline

Failing to file a lawsuit within the specified timeframe typically results in the court dismissing your case. This means:

  • You lose the right to seek compensation for your injuries.
  • The defendant is essentially shielded from legal consequences regarding the specific incident, regardless of their potential liability.

It’s crucial to be aware of these time limits and act accordingly, especially given the variations in statutes across different states.

Factors Influencing Statutes of Limitations

While the basic concept of a statute of limitations is straightforward, several factors can influence its duration and commencement. Understanding these nuances is crucial, as they can significantly impact your ability to file a claim.

Different Types of Personal Injury Cases

Not all personal injury cases are treated equally. Depending on the nature of the injury and the circumstances surrounding it, different statutes might apply:

  • Medical Malpractice: Cases involving medical professionals might have a different timeframe compared to standard personal injury claims.
  • Product Liability: Injuries resulting from defective products can sometimes have unique statutes, especially if the harm becomes apparent long after using the product.
  • Intentional Torts: Cases like assault or battery, which involve intentional harm, might follow different rules.

The Role of Discovery

In some situations, the injury or its cause might not be immediately apparent. This leads to the discovery rule:

  • Discovery Rule: This rule allows the statute of limitations to begin not from the date of the injury itself, but from the date the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.

Exceptions to the Rule

Certain circumstances can pause or “toll” the statute of limitations:

  • Minors: Many states toll the statute for minors, meaning the clock doesn’t start ticking until they reach the age of majority.
  • Mental Incapacitation: If an individual was mentally incapacitated at the time of the injury, some states might pause the statute until the incapacity is lifted.

Court decisions can play a pivotal role in how statutes are interpreted and applied. Significant cases can set precedents that influence future rulings, adding another layer of complexity to the statute’s application.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations by State

StateStatute of Limitations (Years)Statute Citation
Alabama2 yearsAlabama Statutes Section 6-2-38(l)
Alaska2 yearsAlaska Statutes Section 09.10.070
Arizona2 yearsArizona Revised Statutes Section 12-542
Arkansas3 yearsArkansas Code Annotated Section 16-56-105
California2 yearsCalifornia Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1
Colorado2 years; 3 years for claims involving motor vehiclesColorado Revised Statutes Sections 13-80-101(1)(n)(1) and 13-80-102
Connecticut2 yearsConnecticut General Statutes Section 52-584
Delaware2 yearsDelaware Code Title 10, Section 8119
Florida4 yearsFlorida Statutes Section 95.11(3)(a)
Georgia2 yearsGeorgia Code Section 9-3-33
Hawaii2 yearsHawaii Revised Statutes Section 657-7
Idaho2 yearsIdaho Code Section 5-219
Illinois2 yearsIllinois Compiled Statutes Section 5/13-202
Indiana2 yearsIndiana Code Section 34-11-2-4
Iowa2 yearsIowa Code Section 614.1(2)
Kansas2 yearsKansas Statutes Section 60-513(a)(4)
Kentucky1 year; 2 years for claims involving motor vehiclesKentucky Revised Statutes Section 413.140(1)(a)
Louisiana1 yearLouisiana Civil Code Article 3492
Maine6 yearsMaine Revised Statutes Title 14, Section 752
Maryland3 yearsMaryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code Section 5-101
Massachusetts3 yearsMassachusetts General Laws Chapter 260, Section 2A
Michigan3 years; 1 year for personal injury protection (PIP) claimsMichigan Compiled Laws Section 600.5805(10)
Minnesota2 yearsMinnesota Statutes Section 541.07(1)
Mississippi3 yearsMississippi Code Section 15-1-49
Missouri5 yearsMissouri Revised Statutes Section 516.120(4)
Montana3 yearsMontana Code Section 27-2-204
Nebraska4 yearsNebraska Revised Statutes Section 25-207
Nevada2 yearsNevada Revised Statutes Section 11.190(4)(e)
New Hampshire3 yearsNew Hampshire Revised Statutes Section 508:4
New Jersey2 yearsNew Jersey Statutes Section 2A:14-2
New Mexico3 yearsNew Mexico Statutes Section 37-1-8
New York3 yearsNew York Civil Practice Law and Rules Section 214
North Carolina3 yearsNorth Carolina General Statutes Section 1-52
North Dakota6 yearsNorth Dakota Century Code Section 28-01-18
Ohio2 yearsOhio Revised Code Section 2305.10
Oklahoma2 yearsOklahoma Statutes Title 12, Section 95
Oregon2 yearsOregon Revised Statutes Section 12.110
Pennsylvania2 years42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 5524
Rhode Island3 yearsRhode Island General Laws Section 9-1-14
South Carolina3 yearsSouth Carolina Code Section 15-3-530
South Dakota3 yearsSouth Dakota Codified Laws Section 15-2-14
Tennessee1 yearTennessee Code Section 28-3-104
Texas2 yearsTexas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 16.003
Utah4 yearsUtah Code Section 78B-2-307
Vermont3 yearsVermont Statutes Title 12, Section 512
Virginia2 yearsVirginia Code Section 8.01-243
Washington3 yearsWashington Revised Code Section 4.16.080
West Virginia2 yearsWest Virginia Code Section 55-2-12
Wisconsin3 yearsWisconsin Statutes Section 893.54
Wyoming4 yearsWyoming Statutes Section 1-3-105

Navigating the complexities of personal injury law and the varying statutes of limitations across states can be challenging. This underscores the importance of seeking guidance from a legal professional. In this section, we’ll delve into the pivotal role that legal counsel plays in personal injury cases.

Expertise in State-Specific Laws

Each state has its nuances in personal injury law. An experienced attorney:

  • Understands the specific rules and exceptions of their state.
  • Can provide insights into how local courts interpret and apply these rules.
  • Offers guidance on the best course of action based on the state’s legal landscape.

Beyond just understanding the statute of limitations:

  • Attorneys can identify potential exceptions or nuances that might extend or shorten the typical timeframe.
  • They can advise on the viability of a case, potential damages, and the likelihood of success.
  • Legal professionals can gather evidence, liaise with experts, and build a compelling case on behalf of their clients.

Given the time-sensitive nature of personal injury claims:

  • Attorneys emphasize the importance of acting promptly.
  • They can expedite the legal process, ensuring all necessary documents are filed correctly and on time.
  • Early legal intervention can also aid in preserving evidence, identifying witnesses, and establishing a strong foundation for the case.

Negotiating Settlements

Many personal injury cases are settled out of court. A skilled attorney:

  • Can negotiate with insurance companies or opposing counsel to secure a fair settlement.
  • Has the expertise to evaluate settlement offers and advise clients on the best course of action.
  • Will advocate for the client’s best interests, ensuring they receive the compensation they deserve.


The landscape of personal injury law, with its varying statutes of limitations across states, underscores the importance of timely action and informed decision-making. Whether you’re a victim of negligence, a legal professional, or someone seeking to understand the intricacies of these laws, being aware of these timeframes is crucial.

Missing the window to file a lawsuit can have lasting consequences, potentially barring individuals from seeking the justice and compensation they deserve. This guide serves as a comprehensive resource, but it also emphasizes a fundamental truth: the value of professional legal counsel cannot be overstated.

In the ever-evolving realm of personal injury law, staying informed, acting promptly, and seeking expert guidance are the pillars of a successful legal journey. As laws change and legal precedents are set, it’s our collective responsibility to stay informed and advocate for the rights of injury victims everywhere.

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