Each state has laws called “statutes of limitations,” and in these laws you'll find a time limit for the filing of different kinds of cases. Anyone who wants to bring a lawsuit in their state's civil court system needs to understand and abide by the statute of limitations.
In the context of injuries from defamation -- including harm to your reputation, financial losses, and other damages -- if the time "window" closes before you get your libel or slander lawsuit filed, the court will almost always throw the case out as time-barred under the statute. That means you'll lose your right to a civil remedy over the matter. So it's easy to understand why it's crucial to pay attention to these laws.
Check out the list below for the details on the defamation statute of limitations in your state.
To learn more about the legal requirements (and financial considerations) to file a defamation lawsuit, see Can You Sue for Defamation?
|State||Statute of Limitations|
|Washington, District of Columbia||1 year|
|New Hampshire||3 years|
|New Jersey||1 year|
|New Mexico||3 years|
|New York||1 year|
|North Carolina||1 year|
|North Dakota||2 year|
|Rhode Island||1 year|
|South Carolina||2 years|
|South Dakota||2 years|
|Tennessee||libel 1 year; slander 6 months|
|West Virginia||2 years|
For more on these types of civil injury cases, see AllLaw's section on Libel & Slander Claims.