How Much Time Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?
The time limit placed on bringing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is called the "statute of limitations." It is important to file a legal action within this period because if you don't, you may forfeit your right to compensation for any damages suffered. The statutes of limitations vary from state to state, and they may differ depending on the type of claim.
The reason that statutes of limitation exists is because in general, the best time to come forward with a lawsuit is soon after it happened. With time, evidence starts to fade. In a lawsuit, you have a higher likelihood of receiving compensation if the judge and jury can actually witness your injuries and your medical history is recent. With the passing of time the scene can also change, making it more difficult to determine if there was negligence involved.
For instance, in Texas, the statute of limitations for a personal injury and wrongful death claim is two years from the date the cause of action "accrued," which generally means the date of injury. However, this period may be longer if the injury could not have been reasonably discovered, or if the victim suffered from a legal disability, such as being a minor. Each state has its own laws for statutes of limitation, so it would be best to defer to them when you wish to file a personal injury claim. In general though, sooner is always better than later.
It is also good to keep in mind that another time limitation is the Statute of Repose. This differs in that these deadlines are enforced with a stricter hand. Whereas with the statute of limitations, the deadline is more flexible to extensions depending on varying factors, the statute of repose is not.