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.

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