Find Your State Personal Injury Laws

Your state's laws will affect whether you have a valid personal injury case, when you can pursue a lawsuit, and how much money you can get in a settlement or jury verdict.

Key laws that govern personal injury cases vary from state to state. These laws impact how much time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit in court after you've been injured, and how your case is affected if you're partially at fault, among other things. So, you need to learn what the rules are where you reside. The table below provides an overview of some of the most important rules, with links to each state for more detail and additional rules.

Statute of Limitations

It's a "legalese" kind of term, but in the context of personal injury cases, a "statute of limitations" is simply a law that sets out the amount of time you have to go to court and file a lawsuit over your injuries. Every state sets its own time limits, and they range from one year after the injury to six years. The bottom line is that you need to get your personal injury lawsuit filed in court inside of whatever time window your state laws have set. The so-called "discovery rule" may help in certain situations -- meaning the clock doesn't start running until you became aware that you actually suffered harm, as long as your failure to recognize the harm was reasonable under the circumstances.

Shared Fault Rules

Every state follows one of three rules when it comes to situations where the person filing the claim may share some amount of legal liability for causing their own injuries and/or the underlying accident. Here is a brief explanation of the rules, and how a claim will be affected:

  • Contributory Negligence - A person who shares any amount of fault for their injury cannot recover anything at all from other at-fault parties. This is a harsh rule, and fewer and fewer states are following it; currently it's down to only Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.
  • Pure Comparative Negligence - An injured person can recover compensation from any other at-fault party, but the amount that the injured person receives will be reduced by a percentage that is equal to his or her share of the fault. So, in a car accident case, Driver A suffers $10,000 in damages but is deemed 20 percent at fault for the accident, while Driver B bears 80 percent of the blame. Driver A can recover $8,000 from Driver B. And Driver B could technically turn around and recover 20 percent of his or her own damages from Driver A.
  • Modified Comparative Negligence - An injured person can recover compensation from any other at-fault party as long as the injured person's share of legal liability is less than 50 percent. So, using the above example, Driver A still can still recover 80% of his or her damages from Driver B, but Driver B can't recover anything at all from Driver A.

For a more thorough explanation of this rule, see Shared Blame: Comparative and Contributory Fault for a Personal Injury

Fault vs. "No Fault" States

These rules refer to how car accident cases are handled after someone has been injured. In no-fault states, drivers usually can't file a lawsuit after a car accident unless they've met certain thresholds -- these thresholds pertain to either the monetary amount of medical expenses or the seriousness of the injuries. For cases in which the injured person does not meet the "threshold" in no-fault states, he or she may collect only medical bills and lost income through their own insurance carrier (via personal injury protection or PIP coverage). In fault states, people who have been injured in a car accident are subject to no such restrictions.

See our page on no-fault car accident claims for more information on these types of cases.

Limits/Caps on Damages (Amount of Money Recoverable)

Some states have enacted legislation that puts a limit on the amount of money the plaintiff (injured person) in a personal injury case can get in a jury award. This also limits the settlement amount, because no insurance company or defendant will settle a personal injury case for more money than they would lose at trial. Click on your state below to find out if a cap is in place.

State By State Personal Injury Rules

State Statute of Limitations Shared Fault Rules Fault/No Fault Car Accident Rules
Alabama 2 years (Ala. Code section 6-2-38) Contributory negligence Fault
Alaska 2 years (Alaska Stat. section 09.10.070) Pure comparative negligence Fault
Arizona 2 years (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. section 12-542) Pure comparative negligence Fault
Arkansas 3 years (Ark. Code Ann. section 16-56-105)

Modified comparative negligence

Fault
California 2 years (Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. section 335.1) Pure comparative negligence Fault
Colorado 2 years (Colo. Rev. Stat. section 13-80-102); 3 years for car accidents (Colo. Rev. Stat. section 13-80-101) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Connecticut 2 years (Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. section 52-584) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Delaware 2 years (Del. Code Ann. Title 10, sections 8107, 8119) Modified comparative negligence Fault
District of Columbia
3 years (D.C. Code Ann. section 12-301) Contributory negligence No fault
Florida 4 years (Fla. Stat. Ann. section 95.11) Pure comparative negligence No Fault
Georgia 2 years (Ga. Code Ann. section 9-3-33) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Hawaii 2 years (Hawaii Rev. Stat. section 657-7) Modified comparative negligence No Fault
Idaho 2 years (Idaho Code section 5-219) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Illinois 2 years (Ill. Ann. Stat., Ch. 5 section 13-202) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Indiana 2 years (Ind. Code Ann. section 34-11-2-4) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Iowa 2 years (Iowa Code Ann. section 614.1) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Kansas 2 years (Kan. Ann. Stat. section 60-513) Modified comparative negligence No fault
Kentucky 1 year (Ky. Rev. Stat. section 413.140) Pure comparative negligence No fault
Louisiana 1 year (La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 3492) Pure comparative negligence Fault
Maine 6 years (Maine Rev. Stat. Ann. Title 14, Ch. 205 section 752) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Maryland 3 years (Md. Ann. Courts & Jud. Proc. Code section 5-101) Contributory negligence Fault
Massachusetts 3 years (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. Ch. 260 section 2A,4) Modified comparative negligence No fault
Michigan 3 years (Mich. Comp. Laws section 600.5805) Modified comparative negligence No fault
Minnesota 2 years (Minn. Stat. Ann. section 541.07) Modified comparative negligence No fault
Mississippi 3 years (Miss. Code Ann. section 15-1-49) Pure comparative negligence Fault
Missouri 5 years (Mo. Ann. Stat. Title 35 section 516.120) Pure comparative negligence Fault
Montana 3 years (Mont. Code Ann. section 27-2-204) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Nebraska 4 years (Neb. Rev. Stat. section 25-207) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Nevada 2 years (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. section 11.190) Modified comparative negligence Fault
New Hampshire 3 years (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. section 508:4) Modified comparative negligence Fault
New Jersey 2 years (N.J. Stat. Ann. section 2A:14-2) Modified comparative negligence No fault
New Mexico 3 years (N.M. Stat. Ann. section 37-1-8) Pure comparative negligence Fault
New York 3 years (N.Y. Civ. Prac. R. section 214) Pure comparative negligence No fault
North Carolina 3 years (N.C. Gen. Stat. section 1-52)

Modified comparative negligence

Fault
North Dakota 6 years (N.D. Cent. Code section 28-01-16) Modified comparative negligence No Fault
Ohio 2 years (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. section 2305.10) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Oklahoma 2 years (Okla. Stat. Ann. Title 12 section 95) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Oregon 2 years (Ore. Rev. Stat. section 12.110(1)) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Pennsylvania 2 years (42 Pa. Con. State. Ann. section 5524) Modified comparative negligence No fault
Rhode Island 3 years (R.I. Gen. Laws section 91-1-14) Pure comparative negligence Fault
South Carolina 3 years (S.C. Code Ann. section 15-3-530) Modified comparative negligence Fault
South Dakota 3 years (S.D. Comp. Laws Ann. sections 15-2-12.2, 15-2-14) Pure comparative negligence Fault
Tennessee 1 year (Tenn. Code Ann. section 28-3-104) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Texas 2 years (Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code, Title 2 section 16.003) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Utah 2 years (Utah Code Ann. section 78B-2-304) Modified comparative negligence No fault
Vermont 3 years (Vt. Stat. Ann. Title 12 section 512) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Virginia 2 years (Va. Code section 8.01-243) Contributory negligence Fault
Washington 3 years (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. section 4.16.080) Pure comparative negligence Fault
West Virginia 2 years (W.Va. Code section 55-2-12) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Wisconsin 3 years (Wis. Stat. Ann. section 893.54) Modified comparative negligence Fault
Wyoming 4 years (Wyo. Stat. Ann. section 1-3-105) Modified comparative negligence Fault

Learn More About Filing a Personal Injury Case

The following overview articles will help you get informed on the important legal concepts in a personal injury claim, as well as the practical steps involved:

  • How to File a Personal Injury Claim - This page will walk you through the steps of determining if you have a case, and how to get it started.
  • How to Negotiate a Personal Injury Settlement - Start here to learn how to value your case, and prepare a settlement offer for an insurance company.
  • When You Need a Lawyer - Generally speaking, the more serious the injuries, the more a lawyer will help. Find out when you should handle a case yourself - and avoid paying legal fees out of your settlement - and when you'd be better off having a professional handle your case.

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