Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a statute, or law, that restricts the period of time, after certain events, that a person may initiate legal proceedings. These time limits vary depending on the type of case and the state where the particular cause of action occurred. For example, a person filing a personal injury suit in Maryland, such as an injury sustained in an automobile accident, has three years after the date of the injury to sue. This is referred to as a three-year statute of limitations. A lawsuit filed after the deadline set by the statute of limitations will be dismissed by the court unless circumstances allow for the tolling, or extension, of the deadline.
Statutes of limitations were established for a number of reasons. Statutes of limitations promote the interest of fairness in that they prevent people from filing aged civil actions that may be based on faded memories and lost evidence. These statutes also allow individuals to move on with their lives without fear of possible legal action several years later.
For a comparative chart of the statute of limitations for personal injury for each state, click here to visit the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Actions page. If you are interested in details of all the statutes of limitations for a specific state, click on the state of your choice below.