How long do I have to file a claim?

If you have cause to file a lawsuit, you may wonder, “How long do I have to file a claim?” Knowing the time available for filing a legal claim is crucial. If you leave it too late to file your lawsuit, you could lose all rights to compensation. Your case may get thrown out regardless of its strength and validity.

Morgan & Morgan has your back. We can assess your claim and identify how much time you have to file a lawsuit. Do not hesitate to get in touch even if you have already missed your state’s deadline. While exceptions to the statute of limitations are rare, you could still qualify. However, timely action is critical. Get started today and contact us to schedule a free case review.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations determines the length of time plaintiffs (those bringing the suit) have to file a lawsuit in their state. Once the statute of limitations has passed, the dispute is typically too old to be litigated, although there can be rare exceptions that stop (“toll”) the statute.

Every state has laws determining the maximum amount of time parties have to initiate legal proceedings. The time generally starts ticking down on the date of the alleged incident or on the day when the plaintiff discovered their injury.

It is critical to note that filing a lawsuit once the statute has passed usually leads to your case getting thrown out. Therefore, if you have a legal claim, consider consulting with an attorney as soon as possible to determine the deadline in your state and ensure that you are not losing your right to recover compensation.

Examples of Statutes of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases

The statutes of limitations can differ depending on your type of claim and other factors. Many states have statutes of limitations for personal injury claims that give victims two, three, or even four years to file a claim. Notable exceptions are Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee, where plaintiffs generally only have one year to file an injury claim. Maine, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming have some of the longest statutes in the country, providing plaintiffs with up to six years to file a personal injury lawsuit.

It is important to note that lawsuits for wrongful death, breach of contract, property claims, insurance disputes, and others have different timelines. Moreover, you may have other, much shorter, deadlines to observe if you want to sue a government entity.  Always consult an experienced attorney before making decisions about the timing of your lawsuit.

What are Factors That Can Lengthen or Shorten the Time to File a Claim?

In rare cases, the statute of limitations may be extended or tolled. When a statute is tolled, the clock is temporarily stopped, which can provide plaintiffs additional time to bring a case. Reasons for an extension of the statute of limitations can include:

  • The plaintiff did not discover an injury or harm until the statute had expired
  • The victim was a minor and could not legally bring a lawsuit
  • The plaintiff was mentally incompetent or incapacitated and unable to file a lawsuit within the statute
  • The defendant is out-of-state or out-of-country
  • The plaintiff is incarcerated

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim Against the Government?

Filing a claim against a government entity could shorten the statute in your state. Moreover, you may not be able to sue the government until you file a notice of claim with the relevant agency, for which you may have as little as 60 or 90 days.

Factors Complicating Your Case

Specific factors can make it tricky to determine your case’s applicable statute of limitations. Suppose your claim combines several types of legal actions, such as medical malpractice, breach of contract, and wrongful death; you could have three different statutes of limitations to observe. Generally, plaintiffs should file a lawsuit within the shortest statute in such complex cases.

Another complication arises if you have a claim in more than one state. Disputes involving more than one jurisdiction can be challenging. In complex cases where the statute of limitations is not immediately obvious, consulting an experienced attorney can be critical for protecting your rights to legal recourse and compensation.

Morgan & Morgan works nationwide, handling many different types of claims. We know the applicable statute of limitations for your case. Our dedicated lawyers can analyze your claim, identify your legal options, and determine the best possible timing to file your lawsuit.

Should I File a Lawsuit While in Out-of-Court Settlement Negotiations?

In theory, pre-suit negotiations must lead to a settlement or a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. However, in practice, insurance companies often drag out claims, bringing claimants dangerously close to the end of their statute of limitations, particularly in states where the statute is relatively short. Therefore, filing a lawsuit while negotiating with an insurance company or at-fault party can be smart.

If you are in negotiations for an out-of-court settlement, an experienced attorney can advise you whether you should file an official case in court to protect your rights.

Morgan & Morgan Is Here to Help

If you want to file a personal injury claim or another type of legal dispute, do not make the mistake of waiting too long before seeking professional legal advice. Knowing how long you have to file a claim in your state is critical for getting what you deserve.

Morgan & Morgan can be by your side during stressful and challenging times. Over the years, we have recovered more than $20 billion in damages for our clients. We could walk you through your options, file your lawsuit in time, and help you recover what you deserve. Contact us for a free evaluation of your case now.