Firm News & Events arrow How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?

Paul M. D'Amore
Paul M. D'Amore

Founding Member, Trial Lawyer

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?

The decision to pursue legal action against a doctor, individual, company, or hospital is a difficult one. It may take time for you realize the full extent of your injuries, or for you to work up the energy to consult a personal injury attorney. However, waiting too long to take action for a car accident, work site accident, medical malpractice case, or wrongful death can result in your claim being barred forever by the Statute of Limitations.

What is the Statute of Limitations?

Simply put, a Statute of Limitations is the amount of time an individual has to take legal action and it sets a deadline on the time a lawsuit can be filed. Without Statute of Limitations, everyday people, businesses, employers, doctors, hospitals, and corporations would face infinite potential liabilities for accidents and mistakes. This would impede the efficient conduct of business, commerce, and trade in the United States, and have a significant negative impact on the economy.

A statute of Limitations varies from State to State. Within the States, there are even different Statute of Limitations that apply to different types of claims, and even for different types of defendants.

For example:
Suing the Federal Government for a negligence case has a completely different limitations period than a claim for wrongful death against a doctor or hospital.

Maryland Statute of Limitations

Below is a list of case types and the Statute of Limitations that go with each case for Maryland:

  • Medical Malpractice: 3 years from the discovery of the injury, or 5 years from the actual date of injury, whichever is earlier
  • Legal Malpractice: 3 years
  • Personal Injury: 3 years
  • Wrongful Death: 3 years
  • Product Liability: 3 years
  • Property Damage: 3 years
  • False Imprisonment: 3 years
  • Trespassing: 3 years
  • Fraud: 3 years
  • Slander & Libel: 1 year

District of Columbia Statute of Limitations

For medical malpractice, D.C. takes a slightly more straightforward approach than Maryland by having a three-year statute of limitation time period. Below is a list of case types and the Statute of Limitations that go with each case for Washington D.C.:

  • Medical Malpractice: 3 years
  • Legal Malpractice: 3 years
  • Personal Injury: 3 years
  • Wrongful Death: 2 years
  • Product Liability: 3 years
  • Property Damage: 3 years
  • False Imprisonment: 3 years
  • Trespassing: 3 years
  • Fraud: 3 years

When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?

Regardless of their differences, all Statute of Limitations needs a starting point — a moment in time when the “clock” starts to run towards whatever deadline has been set.

  • In some personal injury cases, the clock starts ticking when the accident occurred.
  • If the harm is not immediately evident, the clock may not start ticking until the injured person knows they have been damaged.

Free Consultation

Because Statute of Limitations varies by State, case type, and potential defendant, it is critically important to discuss your matter with an experienced personal injury, medical malpractice, or wrongful death lawyer as soon as you think you have been harmed. Most experienced personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means you can discuss your potential case with the attorney for FREE, and only pay a fee if you recover a settlement or verdict in your favor.

If you suspect that you or someone you love has suffered harm because of someone else’s negligence, contact an experienced attorney today.

More Questions Posts

Are Stretch Limousines Safe?

Here in Maryland, it’s homecoming season. I have three teenagers. Plans are being made for “the ask” (the over-the-top production of how one goes about asking their chosen date to attend) “the dress”, (self-explanatory) and “the ride” (who will have the most memorable limo arrival).   All harmless high school fun, right? And the limo, while it may be pompous, does hold a certain “well, at least they won’t be driving” attraction for us worried parents, right? Maybe not.

How Do I Find a Good Doctor?

Whether you just received a scary diagnosis or moved to a new town, consult a variety of sources to find a trustworthy doctor. Here are seven resources to aid your search.

1. Board certification search tool
Among the first steps for evaluating quality is to check to see whether a physician is board certified, says

Do I have a Medical Malpractice Claim?

A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine found medical errors to be the third leading cause of death in the United States. According to medical malpractice insurance giant Deitrich Healthcare, medical malpractice payouts totaled $3.9 billion in 2014.

Wondering whether you have been the victim of medical malpractice? Take this quiz to learn