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How Much Time Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Personal-injury-statute-of-limitationFollowing a personal injury accident, issues related to that accident occur quickly. Whether it’s filing claims with insurance companies, taking time off work while recovering, scheduling appointments with various doctors, physical therapy, coping with the financial strains of lost wages, and possibly surgery. At times the entire process can be overwhelming and it can become difficult to track time. Understandably, it’s natural to prioritize immediate concerns versus matters that can be set aside to a later date, including seeking legal representation. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit.

New Jersey Statute of Limitations

In the State of New Jersey, personal injury cases have a statute of limitations of two years, N.J. Stat. § 2A:14-2(a). Generally, this mean that you have two years to file a lawsuit seeking damages from the date on which the accident occurred.  If that two year statute of limitation expires before you file a personal injury lawsuit, then you will most likely have permanently missed your opportunity to recover damages. Therefore, it’s important to retain legal representation at your earliest convenience.

Exceptions to the Two-Year Rule

There are certain limited exceptions to the two-year statute of limitation rule for personal injuries lawsuits. For example, if the individual that sustains the injury is a minor (below the age of 18) at the time of the accident. Because the injured is a minor they are unable to pursue legal action on their own behalf. In the majority of cases, a parent or guardian might file a lawsuit claim on the minor’s behalf. If the parent or guardian fails to file a lawsuit, the law grants the injured minor two years after their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. Another exception example is if the party is mentally incapacitated.

Wrongful Death and Government Institutions

While personal injury lawsuits retain a statute of limitations deadline of two years from the accident date, wrongful death claims are handled differently.  The same two-year statute of limitation window exists, but the two-year period begins on the date which the decedent passed away.

Lawsuits seeking compensation from government institutions have additional requirements, including several important time constraints that injured parties must be aware of. Any lawsuit pursued against a state, municipality, or public entity begins with a Notice of Tort Claim. This notice must be filed within 90 days of the date of the accident that caused the injury. Without the Notice of Tort Claim, the lawsuit cannot be moved forward, even if it’s filed within the two-year window. However, like the minor exception discussed above, a minor has 90 days from the date of their 18th birthday to file a Notice of Tort Claim. Once the notice is properly filed, the two-year statute of limitation window still applies.

If you or a member of your family has been in a serious accident, please call and speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys for a free consultation.

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Guillermo J. Gonzalez

NJ Attorney with extensive experience on Bankruptcy Law Real Property Law, Litigation, and Immigration Law. Dedicated Associate Attorney at Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens, & Cammarota LLP.

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