What is the Statute of Limitations?

statute of limitations njThe law limits the time in which you may file a lawsuit for personal injury.  These “deadlines” for filing lawsuits are called Statutes of Limitations.  In most New Jersey personal injury matters, the time in which you may file a lawsuit begins to run on the date that an injury accrues.  Frequently, an injury is considered to have accrued on the date that the accident takes place.

New Jersey’s 2-Year Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

In New Jersey, personal injury lawsuits typically must be filed within 2 years of the date that the injury accrues.  This is usually the date of the accident.

Personal Injury to a Minor

If the injured person is a minor (under the age of 18) at the time of the accident, the 2-year statute of limitations does not begin to run until their 18th birthday.

The Discovery Rule

Certain injuries do not immediately manifest or present themselves, making it impossible to file suit within 2 years of the date of the injury-causing incident.  In these situations, a person may be able to file suit within 2 years of the date that they “discover” the injury.  For example, if a person was exposed to asbestos 20 years ago, but only now contracts cancer, they may be able to rely upon the discovery rule to bring suit within 2 years of the date they discovery the asbestos-related injury.  Similarly, if a surgeon negligently leaves a medical device inside a patient’s body during a procedure, but the injury doesn’t manifest until more than 2 years after the procedure, the patient may be able to file a lawsuit within 2 years of the date they discover the injury.

Know The Applicable Time Limits or Lose Your Right to Sue

Knowing the statute of limitations that applies to your case is very important, and can make the difference between you getting compensation or getting nothing at all.  If you fail to file suit within the time set by the statute of limitation that applies to your case, you may lose the right to sue.