Car Accident Statute of Limitations: State-By-State Guide

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Jan Reburiano

A car accident can happen suddenly, and there’s a common misconception that you can file a claim whenever you want. This is not true, and there’s a deadline for most lawsuits before the courts bar you from filing the same case. For crashes, this is the car accident statute of limitations, and there are different rules for each state.

Other types of lawsuits follow a statute of limitations, and you should keep them in mind while filing your claim:

This guide discusses the statute of limitations for car accidents state-by-state and how certain types of crashes affect your deadline to file. For specific legal help, an auto accident attorney can help you maximize your settlement so all your losses are covered. You can sign up for an attorney below or call 888-927-3080.

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What is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is a deadline courts set for civil and criminal cases to be filed in a certain time period. When caught in a car accident, you can present your case to court so the guilty party can pay for your economic and non-economic damages.

Filing after the statute of limitations causes your case to be “time-barred”, shutting down your claim almost indefinitely. You need to file as soon as possible after your accident to prevent this from happening to your case.

Typically the car accident statute of limitations in your state starts on the date of the accident. For hidden cases, the clock starts when the accident was discovered or should have been discovered.

The Reason for a Statute of Limitations

The reason a statute of limitations exists is to keep evidence fresh during a car accident lawsuit.

Things like determining settlement amounts and assigning liability depends on the memories of the parties involved. Physical evidence may degrade or vanish over a set period of time. There is no trial if there is no usable evidence.

A statute of limitations also prevents people from fearing the threat of a lawsuit years after an event took place. This gives onus to the plaintiff to bring their case in a timely manner, promoting a trial “with unnecessary delay”.

What Happens if I File After The Statute of Limitations?

If you miss the deadline and the car accident statute of limitations passes, the court may dismiss your case entirely. There are certain conditions that may toll the deadline further like property damage and cases involving minors. You need an auto accident attorney to confirm that they apply to you.

Car Accident Statute of Limitations by State

StateStatutes Listed By StateProperty Damage DeadlineBodily Injury Deadline
AlabamaAlabama Code §6-2-382 Years2 Years
AlaskaAlaska Stat. § 09.10.0702 Years2 Years
ArizonaAriz. Rev. Stat. §12-5422 Years2 Years
ArkansasArkansas Code § 16-56-1053 Years3 Years
CaliforniaCal. Civ. Proc. Code § 312 et seq.3 Years2 Years
ColoradoColo. Rev. Stat. §13-80-1023 Years3 Years
ConnecticutConn. Gen. State. §52-5842 Years2 Years
DelawareDel. Code Ann. Title 10, §81192 Years2 Years
FloridaFla. Stat. Ann. §95.114 Years4 Years
DCD.C. Code § 12-3013 Years3 Years
GeorgiaGa. Code Ann. § 9-3-324 Years2 Years
HawaiiHaw. Rev. Stat. §657.72 Years2 Years
IdahoIdaho Code §5-2193 Years2 Years
IllinoisIll. Ann. State. Ch. 735, Art. 5, §13-2025 Years2 Years
IndianaInd. Code § 34-11-2-42 Years2 Years
IowaIowa Code Ann. §614.15 Years2 Years
KansasKan. Stat. Ann. §60-5132 Years2 Years
KentuckyKy. Rev. Stat. §413.1402 Years1 Years
LouisianaLa. Civ. Code Ann. Art. §34921 Years1 Years
MaineMaine Rev. Stat. Ann. Title 14, Ch. 205, §7526 Years6 Years
MarylandMd. Ann. Code §5-1013 Years3 Years
MassachusettsMass. Gen. Laws, Art. 260, §2A, 43 Years3 Years
MinnesotaMinnesota Statutes § 541.07(1)2 Years2 Years
MichiganMich. Comp. Laws § 600.5801 et seq.3 Years3 Years
MississippiMiss. Code Ann. §15-1-493 Years3 Years
MissouriMissouri Ann. Stat. Title 35, §516.1205 Years5 Years
MontanaMont. Code Ann. §27-2-204, 27-2-2072 Years3 Years
NebraskaNeb. Rev. Stat. §25-2074 Years4 Years
NevadaNev. Rev. Stat. §11.1903 Years2 Years
New HampshireN.H. Rev. State. §508.43 Years3 Years
New JerseyN.J. Stat. Ann. § 2a:14-1 et seq.6 Years6 Years
New MexicoN.M. Stat. Ann. §37-1-84 Years3 Years
New YorkN.Y. Civ. Prac. R. §2143 Years3 Years
North CarolinaN.C. Gen. Stat. §1-523 Years3 Years
North DakotaN.D. Cent. Code § 28-01-166 Years6 Years
OhioOhio Rev. Code 2305.104 Years4 Years
OklahomaOkla. Stat. Ann. Title 12, §952 Years2 Years
OregonOre. Rev. Stat. §12.1106 Years2 Years
Pennsylvania42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §55242 Years2 Years
Rhode IslandR.I. Gen. Laws §9-1-1410 Years3 Years
South CarolinaS.C. Code Ann. §15-3-5303 Years3 Years
South DakotaSD Codified L § 15-2-146 Years3 Years
TennesseeTenn. Code Ann. §28-3-1043 Years1 Years
TexasTex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.001 et seq.2 Years2 Years
UtahUtah Code Ann. §78-12-283 Years4 Years
Vermont12 V.S.A. § 5123 Years3 Years
VirginiaVa. Code 8.01-2435 Years2 Years
WashingtonWa. Rev. Code Ann. §4.16.0803 Years3 Years
West VirginiaW. Va. Code §55-2-122 Years2 Years
WisconsinWisc. Stat. Ann. §893.546 Years3 Years
WyomingWy. Stat. Ann. §1-3-1054 Years4 Years

Exceptions to Your Car Accident Statute of Limitations

There are exceptions to the statute of limitations you should know about when filing a car accident claim. These exceptions temporarily toll the deadline until regular conditions are met, all of which change from state-to-state. Consult with an attorney to know whether your state’s tolling laws apply to your case.

  1. The plaintiff is a minor under 18 years old
  2. The plaintiff is mentally-incapable of filing a lawsuit
  3. The defendant either dies or moves out of state
  4. An agreement between plaintiff and defendant to toll the statute of limitations further
  5. The state is at-war or a member of the lawsuit is on military service

There may be more exceptions to statute of limitations depending on your state, so consulting with an attorney is important. Below are accidents that may reduce your statute of limitations further.

Car Accidents Statute of Limitations Involving a Government Entity

If there is a car accident involving a government entity, there is a shorter deadline to file a claim. Some states like Illinois require you to file in the same deadline, but you have to notify the Court of Claims and the State Attorney General within one year.

There are states like California that shorten the statute of limitations to six months if you hit a government vehicle. Each state’s statute of limitation laws for car accidents are different, so make sure you’re following your state’s filing requirements.

Car Accident Statute of Limitations Claims Under Dram Shop Laws

Most states follow established dram shop laws that hold establishments liable if they let drunk patrons drive, causing an accident. Most states allow you to file a car accident claim within 60 days.

Find Out If Your Case Qualifies for Compensation

It’s tragic to see a claim attempting to enact justice for a traumatic car accident get barred from court. You don’t have to face that consequence if you file as soon as possible while working with an expert attorney.

If you have trouble finding local, reliable representation, LegalASAP’s 500+ law firms around the United States are ready to help. If you’re ready to reach out, call 888-927-3080 or fill out this short evaluation form below:

Jan Reburiano is a content writer and SEO specialist for law firms focusing on personal injury, disability, employment law, among other practices. He has written and edited numerous articles and created commercial spots for broadcasters that you can find in his LinkedIn. Jan currently lives in Los Angeles, California while writing for clients from around the United States.