Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

When Is It Too Late to Sue for Injury?

You may have been injured a while ago, and you just haven't gotten around to pursuing your injury claim yet.

But beware: If you wait too long, you might be too late to get compensation in civil court for your injuries. On the other hand, even though a lot of time has passed, you shouldn't always assume that your case isn't worth pursuing.

So when is it too late to sue for injury?

Check Your State's Statute of Limitations

The biggest barrier between a somewhat old injury claim and compensation is the statute of limitations for injury claims. These state-specific laws set a time limit for most injury claims, and when that time period has elapsed, the claim will likely be blocked in civil court.

In cases involving common personal injuries (slip-and-fall accidents, car crashes, battery, etc.), these statutes of limitation start the "clock" on your claim when the injury occurs. In California, for example, you may need to file your personal injury claim within two years of actually being injured to avoid being barred by the statute of limitations.

May Start From Date of Discovery of Injury

Some injuries aren't apparent right away, so in many cases, the law allows for the statute of limitations to be tolled until a person could've reasonably discovered his or her injuries. This is especially true of product liability cases, where the connection between the use or consumption of a product and an injury may not reasonably be made until years (sometimes decades) after its first use.

The same can be said about many child sex abuse cases, in which abused children may not discover the magnitude of the psychological and emotional damage until much later in life. Many states have allowed victims to file these claims after discovery of the psychological harm done to them by their alleged attackers, but some old claims may still be barred because of time.

An Attorney Can Evaluate Your Claim's Timeliness

Instead of trying to decipher from these statutes whether your claim is still good or not, you can simply speak to a personal injury attorney for his or her evaluation of your case. Lawyers often are able to consider options or avenues for your case which you may not have considered.

Bottom line: It might not be too late to get compensation for your injury, even if it happened a while ago.

Related Resources: