State Differences in the Statute of Limitations

When it comes to personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is a vital issue to understand. A lot of people know that statutes of limitations are laws that impose specific timelines in various types of legal cases, but not everyone knows that there can be some significant differences between states when it comes to these laws. Today, let’s take a look at what types of statutes of limitations differences exist between states.

Types of Statutes of Limitations

Before we look at state differences in statutes of limitations, it’s important to understand that there are many different types of statutes of limitations that each state has, even though they all work in basically the same way.

Essentially, every statute of limitations is like a ticking clock. That clock begins once events take place that could lead to a lawsuit. These events are known as a cause of action. As soon as the cause of action transpires, the statutes of limitations clock begins ticking away. Once that clock reaches zero, you cannot file a lawsuit arising from that particular cause of action.

State statutes of limitations are typically divided into four categories: written contracts, oral contracts, injuries, or property damage. Some states have additional categories, such dividing property damage into personal and real property, but those are the four essential categories. Depending on the state, the difference between statutes of limitations from one category to the next can be significant. Further, the time limits between states can differ greatly.

State Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations

So, now that you know what statutes of limitations are and that state statutes differ, let’s take a look at those difference. Depending on where you live, the statute of limitations that applies to your personal injury case could be as little as one year, or as long as 10. That’s a difference of 9 years simply because you were hurt in one state and not another.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say that you get injured as a result of a slip and fall accident at a business located in Massachusetts. You suffer a significant injury as a result of the fall, one that results not only in medical expenses arising from the treatment you receive, but also lost wages because of the work you missed, and a loss of enjoyment of life because you are not able to do the things you were once able to do. In Massachusetts, you have three years after suffering your injury to file a lawsuit for the damaged you incurred.

Now, take the exact same situation, but let’s move south a bit. Let’s say that instead of suffering a slip and fall accident in Massachusetts, you’re hurt in Rhode Island. Even if the difference is only a matter of miles, or a matter of feet, it’s all the legal difference in the world. If you are injured in Rhode Island, you have 10 years after suffering your injury in which to file your lawsuit.

If you’ve been hurt or suffered an accident you need to talk to a lawyer right away. The statute of limitations clock is already ticking, and only an attorney can tell you how much time you have left.


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