How long do I have to file a personal injury claim?

A personal injury action in New Jersey that doesn’t involve a government body or a medical malpractice that you may not be aware of, with both plaintiff and defendant from New Jersey must be filed within 2 years of the incident.

The time limit for filing a lawsuit is called “statute of limitations” and they are varied. First and foremost because they are statutory they are state- wide. Different states can have different statutes of limitations for the same type of injury.

Similarly, within a particular state, different statutes of limitations exist for different types of cases. For example, contract cases are different than personal injury actions.

Therefore, when trying to determine how long you have to file a lawsuit the first two questions to ask are: 1) What state? 2) What kind of action?

As with everything involved in the law, however, it rarely is that simple. The state involved can be the state where the plaintiff lives, defendant lives, or action arose. For example, if a driver from Florida crashes into a driver from New York on the Garden State Parkway, should you file in Florida, New York or New Jersey? These questions are called choice of law and would require an attorney to properly review the case.

Another potential problem occurs with injuries involving a government body. This can be a car accident with a government vehicle like a police car, mail truck or garbage truck. It could also be a fall claim in a school, hospital or boardwalk. These are only examples and are limitless in possibilities. In these situations a “Notice of Claim” must be filed within 90 days of the injury. Once this is filed the normally applicable statute of limitations applies.

Another commonly asked question with regard to statutes of limitations is when does the clock start ticking? While usually it is on the occurrence of the injury; it is sometimes on the date the person should have known of the negligence. For example, we have all heard of cases of surgeries where doctors leave sponges inside a patient during surgery. Although the surgery may have been in 2012 the patient doesn’t find out there is a sponge inside of him until 2014. Obviously in this case the time period to bring suit begins in 2014 although the actual negligence occurred in 2012.

In review, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case depend on the state of those involved and the state of occurrence as well as what type of occurrence.