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What is the Statute of Limitations for Truck Accident Lawsuits?

After a truck accident, it may take time to recover from your injuries, get back to work, and get your life back together. In some cases, your injuries may have caused permanent damage you cannot repair. However, when recovering from your car accident case, it is important to keep in mind that you may have a limited time to file your car accident claims. While insurance companies may have particular expectations or deadlines for filing, your state’s court system may have its own deadlines to file. If you were injured anywhere in the country, talk to the truck accident attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team. Our lawyers may be able to help you understand the deadlines you face, and file your trucking injury claim.

Deadlines to File for Truck Accident Injuries

Each state has what’s called a “statute of limitations” for various types of lawsuits. These are usually literal statutes, written into your state’s laws, which say how long you have to file your case. Many states have a general statute of limitations of 2 years, but this is not always the case. Some states have shorter or longer statutes of limitations, and some may use different time limits for different types of claims. For instance, while some states may shorten the statutes of limitations for wrongful death cases, they may have longer limitations for breach of contract claims.

The statute of limitations that deals with truck accidents is usually the statute of limitations for “personal injury.” This is called personal injury, to distinguish your physical injuries from what some states may refer to as “injury” to property or real estate. Again, some particular types of injury cases are limited to shorter time periods (such as in auto defect cases, like defective truck tire cases), but a general car accident injury claim falls under the standard personal injury statute.

Some states put specific time limits on all types of claims, while others will place personal injury claims into a catch-all category. Because of this, it may be confusing to track down the specific statute of limitations for your state. To combat this, we have organized the statutes of limitations for each state by the number of years you have to file your case in each state. Each state’s statute of limitations for truck accidents falls somewhere on this list:

States with 1-Year Statutes of Limitations

  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Tennessee

States with 3-Year Statutes of Limitations

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

States with 4-Year Statutes of Limitations

  • Florida
  • Nebraska
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

States with 5-Year Statutes of Limitations

  • Missouri

States with 6-Year Statutes of Limitations

  • Maine
  • North Dakota

Washington, D.C. is not on this list, but has a 3-year statute of limitations.

Note that when you apply a statute of limitations, you use the state where your injury happened. You typically file in the court of the state where the accident took place, not where you live – if that is a different state. However, you may be able to sue in different courts depending on their states’ laws and where the truck driver or trucking company is from.

How Does a Statute of Limitations Work for Truck Accidents?

It is important to understand that a statute of limitations is a deadline to file your case. Once your case is filed, it may take more time to actually get the case assigned to a judge, file court documents, and get to trial. The statute of limitations only applies to the initial filing; if other court actions take place after the statute of limitations expires, it’s okay as long as your case was filed on-time.

Sometimes, the defendant will try to use the statute of limitations as a defense to the case. This means that the at-fault party will claim that you filed your case too late, and the judge should dismiss it. In most states, if the case is filed too late, the judge will dismiss the case. However, there are some rules that may extend your time to file.

Rules that overcome the statute of limitations may “toll” the statute of limitations by pausing the clock. This may occur if you were legally “incompetent.” Any victim under the age of 18 is usually “incompetent,” and may be able to pause the clock until they turn 18. Additionally, mental handicaps (either from the accident or from before the crash) may also pause the clock. Sometimes, another rule called a “discovery rule” may be able to pause your case if you did not yet “discover” that your case was caused by someone else’s negligence. However, this rule would typically not apply to a truck accident cases.

Truck Accident Lawyers

The national truck accident victims’ attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm’s the Truck Accident Team may be able to help file your case and fight to get you the compensation you need. Always keep in mind the deadlines that apply in your case, and file your case as soon as you can. For a free consultation on your injury case, call today at (215) 246-9000.

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