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Lawsuits & Litigation

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries?

— April 28, 2022

The statute of limitations is a significant part of the law surrounding personal injury claims.

There are many different laws in the United States concerning personal injuries. However, the statute of limitations is a clear-cut law that limits how long someone has to file a lawsuit for an injury. This article looks into some common rules surrounding the statute of limitations and what these mean to you and your case.

The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

The statute of limitations defines how long a person can wait to file a lawsuit after being injured by someone else’s negligence. It is a clear set of rules, but there are always exceptions.

While the statute of limitations is not a particularly difficult concept to grasp, the tricky part is that it changes between states. Currently, personal injury cases fall between a statute of two to six years. For example, in some states, you only have one year to seek justice, while in others you can have up to six years.

Furthermore, the deadline also depends on the type of personal injury case and a complex series of additional factors. A personal injury lawyer in Virginia Beach can help you understand the law. They will also let you know what specific deadline applies to your particular case.

Can I Still Sue After the Statute of Limitations Passes?

If you fail to file a claim within the statute of limitations, expect your case to be dismissed. Having a lawyer on your side can help you stay on track and respect all the deadlines you encounter in your pursuit of justice.

What Are the Exceptions?

There are always exceptions to the rules, and in most cases, it is a matter of understanding what the law says about these exceptions. Some of the most common ways that the statute of limitations can be paused or extended include:

Individuals Considered Minors

A minor victim cannot file a lawsuit on their behalf, so the statute of limitations is put on hold until they become legal adults. Once they are 18 years of age, the victim has a set time limit to file a claim. However, the minor’s parents may also file for compensation on behalf of the victim before their 18th birthday.


If a disability impedes an individual from taking action, the statute of limitations can be suspended. It is important to note that the said disability can be related to health problems (terminal illness) or even financial difficulties (bankruptcy). Since this is a rather complex area, it is advised to discuss it with a qualified legal expert.

The Discovery Rule

Depending on your state and the circumstances surrounding your injury, you may use the discovery rule. This is often mentioned in health problems that take a longer time to develop and to get discovered.

For example, if you were exposed to asbestos at your work, you may only show signs years after the exposure happened. Once a doctor has discovered the underlying symptoms, you can start building a case. A lawyer can help you identify a liable party and advise you on how to collect further evidence.

Fraudulent Concealment

Gavel and rolled document saying “Personal Injury” resting atop maroon book saying “Law.” Image by Claimaccident, via
Image by Claimaccident, via

If fraudulent concealment was identified within your case, the statute of limitations can be postponed. Examples of fraudulent concealment include, but are not limited to:

  • Deceiving
  • Lying
  • Misleading
  • Faking documents or other evidence

What About Suing a Government Entity?

If your injuries can be traced back to a government entity, you may take legal action against them. However, there are a special set of rules that govern such circumstances.

For example, the Federal Tort Claims Act details how victims may file against the government for:

  • Accidents caused by federal employees
  • Injuries on government property

If you decide to go up against official entities, you should not do that without proper legal representation.

The Clock Is Ticking

The statute of limitations is a significant part of the law surrounding personal injury claims. If you want to take legal action after an incident, you must understand the rules and how they may be applied in your case.

If you are unsure whether or not to file a lawsuit, it is best to speak with an attorney who can help answer your questions and guide you toward the best solution for your particular situation.

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