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Is There a Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents?

By Tanya Roth, Esq. | Last updated on

If you've been in a car accident, you might be curious to know whether or not there is a time limit for a lawsuit to be brought.

In some cases, you'll be wondering if there a time span in which a car accident lawsuit may be brought against you. In other cases, you'll be wondering how long you have to bring a lawsuit.

What is the statute of limitations for a car accident lawsuit? There are many things to consider when answering this question.

What is the statute of limitations? The statute of limitations is the legal rule that limits the time for a party to bring a lawsuit. If you have a lawsuit, you must bring it within a certain amount of time, otherwise you lose the right to bring the lawsuit. The statute of limitations (i.e. the time to bring the lawsuit) can start running from the time that the injury is discovered, or from the time of the incident that gave rise to the injury, depending on the nature of the lawsuit.

Type of lawsuit. What kind of lawsuit is the other party bringing? The nature of the lawsuit is key in figuring out any time limitations on the lawsuit. If it's a civil lawsuit involving property damage or some minor personal injury, the case will fit under the statute of limitations for general civil lawsuits, in many states. In other cases, where the car accident involves death, there could be lawsuits for wrongful death. Wrongful death lawsuits will have different statutes of limitations. Finally, you might be bringing a lawsuit for product liability against the car maker.

Your state. The statute of limitations depends on which state you live in. Civil lawsuits differentiate largely from state to state. Typically, you have two years to bring a garden-variety car accident lawsuit. In some states, such as Illinois, you have up to five years to bring an action for property damage.

The time limit to bring a lawsuit stemming from a car accident depends on many factors. A car accident attorney should be able to guide you on all aspects of bringing a car accident lawsuit.

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