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. After the time limit has passed, the injured person no longer has the right to sue to recovery money damages, unless a legal exception applies. The following provides a brief summary, in alphabetical order, of some of the limitations periods for the state of Massachusetts for those actions related to personal injury, medical malpractice, and some products liability. Please contact a qualified Massachusetts lawyer to find out how a statute of limitations applies to your situation.
Actions based on fraud must be filed within 3 years.
These types of actions must be filed within 3 years from the date of the action.
All actions against medical professionals must be filed within 3 years of the date of the act resulting in the medical malpractice injury, or within 3 years of the date the injury was, or should have been, discovered. A suit may not be filed more than seven years after the date of the act resulting in the injury. However, if the action is based on the presence of a foreign object being left in the injured party’s body, the limitations period will begin to run from the time the injured party discovered, or should have discovered, the foreign object. If the injured party is a minor under the age of six, the minor will have until his or her 9th birthday to file a legal claim. The may not be extended beyond 7 years from the date of the act resulting in the injury. When the injured party is over the age of six, the standard 3 year limitations period applies.
Personal injury actions must be filed within 3 years from the date of the injury. A person injured in a hit-and-run accident must file a personal injury action within 6 months after learning the identity of the negligent driver. However, no action may be brought beyond the initial 3 year limitations period.
Product liability actions must be filed within 3 years from the date of the injury. As there are several exceptions to this limitations period, direct referral to the statute is recommended.
Wrongful death actions must be filed within 3 years of the date of death, or within 3 years the date the cause of death should have reasonably been discovered.
Special Rules Tolling the Statute of Limitations:
A statute of limitations is tolled when certain conditions are present. When a statute is tolled, the limitations period is essentially put on hold for a period of time. Some typical reasons that a statute is tolled include situations when the victim of the injury was a minor at the time of the injury (minority), when the victim of the injury was mentally incompetent at the time of the injury (mental incompetence), and when the defendant has filed bankruptcy.
In Massachusetts, when the injured party is a minor the limitations period begins to run on that minor’s 18th birthday. This exception does not apply in medical malpractice or wrongful death cases, however. In those instances, please refer to the above information, or refer to the statute directly. If an injured party is deemed to be mentally incompetent at the time the action first accrues, the limitations period begins to run when the disability is removed.