After a Connecticut car accident, a slip-and-fall, or any other incident where someone else's conduct causes you harm, you might consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. If so, you need to understand and comply with Connecticut's personal injury statute of limitations.
As background, a statute of limitations is a law that sets a strictly-enforced deadline on your right to file a civil lawsuit in court. Every state has these laws. Time limits differ from one kind of case to the next.
In this article, we'll explain how Connecticut's personal injury statute of limitations works, why the filing deadline is so important, and a few situations when the filing deadline is different or might be extended.
Connecticut's general personal injury statute of limitations—the one that applies to most Connecticut personal injury lawsuits—can be found at Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-584 (2024). Any lawsuit "to recover damages for injury to the person...caused by negligence...or by malpractice of a [health care provider or] hospital" must be brought within two years from:
But the statute puts an outside limit on this "discovery rule," as it's sometimes called. Regardless of when (or if) you discover your injury, you can't sue more than three years from the date of the act that caused the injury.
Sometimes, a different statute of limitations might apply, or the statute that applies might be paused briefly. Here are some (but not all) of those exceptions to the two-year general rule.
In these cases (and others not mentioned here), a different statute of limitations applies.
Injury results in death. If the injury causes death and the victim's estate wants to bring a Connecticut wrongful death claim, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-555 (2024) applies. Suit must be filed within two years from the date of death. If the injury doesn't cause death right away, you can't sue later than five years from the date of the act that caused the death.
Injury was intentional. Most personal injury claims are based on a legal theory called negligence. When a person doesn't act as carefully as they should under the circumstances, they're negligent.
But what if someone intentionally injures you? For example, suppose someone deliberately punches you in the nose. That's an intentional tort called a battery. In Connecticut, there's a three-year statute of limitations on intentional tort claims, meaning you must sue within three years from the date of the act that caused your injury. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577 (2024).)
Injured by a dangerous product. If you're hurt by a dangerous product, as a general rule you have to file your case (called a "product liability lawsuit") within three years from the date of your injury. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577a (2024).)
Injuries caused by the government. Several special rules apply to injury claims against the government. Among other things, special notice requirements apply, meaning you must give the government advance written notice of your intent to file a lawsuit before you can sue. The notice deadline is short.
Here's just one example. Say you want to sue Connecticut over some personal injury (and your case isn't covered by another statute of limitations). Before you can sue, you must notify the Connecticut Office of Claims Commissioner, in writing, of your claim. You have to file this notice within one year from the date you were injured. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-148 (2024).)
As part of your notice, you must ask for permission to sue the state. If the claim isn't resolved to your satisfaction—and if you've been given permission to sue—you have one year from the date permission was granted to file your lawsuit in court. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-160(i) (2024).)
Note that shorter deadlines might apply in other kinds of claims against the government. Consult with a Connecticut attorney for details on your case.
In some circumstances, the statute of limitations clock will be temporarily paused. Here are a few examples.
Responsible party leaves the state. When the defendant (the person you're suing) leaves the state for any period of time after the accident, but before you've filed your lawsuit, the time they're out of the state isn't counted as part of the limitation period. Note that the filing deadline won't be extended more than seven years under this exception. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-590 (2024).)
Fraudulent concealment. If the person who caused your injury tries to fraudulently conceal their wrongdoing, the statute of limitations doesn't start to run until you discover what happened. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-595 (2024).)
The statute of limitations is a claim killer—that's its only purpose. If you try to file a lawsuit after the limitation period has expired, the defendant will ask the court to dismiss your case. The court will have no choice but to grant that request. You've lost your right to collect compensation for your personal injuries, forever.
Statutes of limitations are among the most difficult and complex of all laws. Even if you think you know the limitation period that applies to your case, special rules and exceptions can make figuring out how long you have to file a real headache. It's easy to make a costly mistake, one that ends your right to sue.
If you have a personal injury claim, your first call should be to an experienced Connecticut personal injury lawyer. This is someone who knows Connecticut's statutes of limitations and can explain how long you have to file your case. If you're ready to move forward, here's how to find an attorney who's right for you.