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Posted in St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers on May 8, 2016   |  by Gary Burger

Determining the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident Lawsuit

Vehicular accidents happen every day. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that 11 accidents involving at least one semi-truck occur daily. In 2012, 2.09 million vehicle passengers were injured and 21,667 were killed in traffic accidents. This hasn't changed the fact that not everyone knows when to call a personal injury lawyer or car accident attorney. The important question to ask is: is there a statute of limitations for car accidents?

Determine the Statue of Limitations for a Car Accident Lawsuit

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that the statute of limitations is different in every state, but every state has a limit on the amount of time you can spend between the accident and the filing of a lawsuit.

Car accident cases are considered a subset of personal injury, so the statute of limitations for personal injury will usually apply to a car accident case. Again, this may vary from state to state, and some differentiate based on the type of case.

In Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, a person injured in a car accident only has one year after the accident to file a lawsuit, but in Maine, they have up to six years. A majority of state statutes fall between these extremes, and you can find out what your state statute is online.

If you don't contact a car accident lawyer and file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations is up, you may be out of luck. One major exception to this is if the person injured did not discover and could not have discovered that they were injured in the accident until after the time limit was up. Exceptions may also be made for individuals who didn't connect existing injuries to the accident right away.

Unfortunately, these discoveries are more common with personal injury issues like medical malpractice than car accidents. Usually individuals involved in car accidents recognize the source of their injuries and get medical attention, so it's difficult even for the best car accident lawyer to successfully argue for an exception on these terms.

Injured parties are advised to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as they can, even if they expect insurance to pay for the damages. Waiting too long can prevent your case from getting to court at all.