What's the Deadline to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Understand how the statute of limitations works, and get details on the personal injury lawsuit-filing deadline in your state.

Updated by , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

A statute of limitations is a law that puts a strict time limit on your right to have a court consider any kind of civil lawsuit. Each state and the federal government have their own deadlines for different types of cases.

In any given state, the same statute of limitations will usually apply to most personal injury lawsuits, or to most cases in which the basis for liability is the personal injury law concept of "negligence." That includes lawsuits for injuries stemming from car accidents, slip and fall incidents, dog bites, and more.

More Than One Statute of Limitations Might Apply

A few states (like Colorado and Kentucky) have a separate statute of limitations for injury lawsuits arising from car accidents.

And keep in mind that a single lawsuit can contain multiple claims (or "causes of action" in legalese) that might be subject to different deadlines. For example, you might sue an at-fault driver after a car accident, and bring:

  • one cause of action for personal injury (your physical harm), and
  • another cause of action for property loss (damage to your vehicle).

Depending on your state, different statutes of limitations might apply to these two claims. In Illinois, for example, you'd have two years to file a lawsuit over your injuries, and five years to sue over your vehicle damage.

Watch the Statute of Limitations Clock

Whatever the specific deadline that applies to your case, if you don't go to court and get your case started before the deadline passes, you'll likely lose your legal right to bring a lawsuit over the incident.

The "clock" typically starts running on the day of the accident or injury that triggered the lawsuit. But in some states, and in certain situations, if you didn't discover that you were harmed right away, the clock might not start until your injury becomes apparent to you (or should have become apparent to you in the eyes of the law). This is often called the "discovery rule," and how (or whether) it should be applied to a given case can become a crucial point of argument.

Lawsuits Versus Insurance Claims

A statute of limitations deadline only applies to the filing of a lawsuit in court. With most injury cases, some sort of insurance policy applies to the underlying accident, and the insurance claim process often precedes the filing of a lawsuit. Most personal injury cases settle out of court, but it's still important to leave yourself plenty of time to turn to the court system—not merely for leverage during settlement negotiations, but to preserve your rights and your options if settlement talks break down.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations Deadline

In every state, special circumstances can effectively extend the statute of limitations filing deadline (or mandate the use of a different deadline altogether), including personal injury cases in which:

  • the injured person was a minor
  • the injured person was mentally incapacitated
  • the defendant (the person being sued) left the state for a certain amount of time after the accident, or
  • the defendant took steps to conceal their identity or otherwise act fraudulently to prevent the lawsuit from going forward.

Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations by State

Below you'll find the basic statute of limitations deadline for filing most personal injury lawsuits in each state. Click on a state for more details, including situations that might change the filing deadline. Keep in mind that laws like these can always change, and make sure to consult a personal injury attorney for a clear understanding of the deadlines and procedures relating to your potential case.

State Time Limitation Title, Chapter, Article Number
Alabama 2 years Title 6, Ch. 2, 6-2-38 (2020)
Alaska 2 years Sec. 9.10.070 (2020)
Arizona 2 years Title 12, Article 3, Sec. 12-542 (2020)
Arkansas 3 years Secs. 16-56-104, 16-56-105, 16-114-203, 16-62-102 (2020)
California 2 years Code of Civ. Proc. Sec. 340 (2020)
Colorado 2 years (3 years for car accidents) Colo. Rev. Stat. Sec. 13-80-102 (2020)
Connecticut 2 years Conn. Gen. State. Sec. 52-584 (2020)
Delaware 2 years Title 10, Ch. 81, Sec. 8119 (2020)
DC 3 years Title 12, Ch. 3, Sec. 12-301 (2020)
Florida 2 years Title 8, Ch. 95, Sec. 95.11 (2023)
Georgia 2 years Sec. 9-3-33 (2020)
Hawaii 2 years Rev. Stat. Sec. 657.7 (2020)
Idaho 2 years Title 5, Ch. 2, Sec. 5-219 (2020)
Illinois 2 years Ch. 735, Act 5, Art 13, Sec. 13-202 (2020)
Indiana 2 years Title 34, Art. 11, Ch. 2, Sec. 34-11-2-4 (2020)
Iowa 2 years Chapter 614, Section 614.1 (2020)
Kansas 2 years Chapter 60, Art 5, Sec. 60-513 (2020)
Kentucky 1 year (2 years for car accidents) Title 36, Chapter 413, Sec. 413.140 (2020)
Louisiana 1 year Ci. Code. Art. 3492 (2020)
Maine 6 years Title 14,Part 2, Ch. 205, Sub. 1, Sec. 752 (2020)
Maryland 3 years Courts and Judicial Proceedings, Sec. 5-101 (2020)
Massachusetts 3 years Title 5, Ch. 260, Secs. 2A and 4 (2020)
Michigan 3 years Chapter 600, Act 236, Ch. 58, Sec. 600.5805, number 9 (2020)
Minnesota 2 years Ch. 541, Sec 541.05, 541.07 (2020)
Mississippi 3 years Title 15, Ch. 1, Sec. 15-1-49 (2020)
Missouri 5 years Title 35, Ch. 516, Sec. 516.120 (2020)
Montana 3 years Title 27, Ch. 2, 27-2-204 and 27-2-207 (2020)
Nebraska 4 years Title 25, Section 207, 25-207 (2020)
Nevada 2 years Chapter 11, Sec 11.190 (2020)
New Hampshire 3 years Chapter 508, Sec. 508.4 (2020)
New Jersey 2 years Title 2A, Ch. 14, Sec. 2A:14-2 (2020)
New Mexico 3 years Ch. 37, Art. 1, Sec. 37-1-8 (2020)
New York 3 years Civil Practice Laws and Rules, Art. 2, Sec. 214 (2020)
North Carolina 3 years Title 1, Section 1-52 (2020)
North Dakota 6 years Title 28, Ch. 1, Secs. 28-01-16 (2020)
Ohio 2 years Title 23, Ch. 5, Sec. 2305.10 (2020)
Oklahoma 2 years Title 12, Ch. 3, Sec. 95 (2020)
Oregon 2 years Ch. 12, Sec. 12.110 (2020)
Pennsylvania 2 years 42 PA Con. Stat. Section 5524 (2020)
Rhode Island 3 years Title 9, Ch. 1, Sec. 9-1-14 (2020)
South Carolina 3 years Title 15, Ch. 3, Sec. 15-3-530 (2020)
South Dakota 3 years Title 15, Ch. 2, Sec. 15-2-14 (2020)
Tennessee 1 year Title 28, Ch. 3, Sec. 28-3-104 (2020)
Texas 2 years Civ. Prac. & Rem Code, Title 2, Ch. 16, Sec. 16.003 (2020)
Utah 4 years Title 78, Ch. 12, Sec. 78-12-25 (2020)
Vermont 3 years Title 12, Part 2, Ch. 23, Subch. 2, Sec. 512 (2020)
Virginia 2 years Title 8.01, Ch. 4, Sec. 8.01-243 (2020)
Washington 3 years Title 4, Ch. 16, Sec. 4.16.080 (2020)
West Virginia 2 years Title 55, Ch. 2, Sec. 55-2-12 (2020)
Wisconsin 3 years Chapter 893, Sec. 893.54 (2020)
Wyoming 4 years Title 1, Ch. 3, Sec. 1-3-105 (2020)

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