Personal Injury Cases: Understanding Statute of Limitations

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Personal injury cases can be complex and emotionally draining. When a person is injured due to someone else’s negligence, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. However, there are time limits, known as statute of limitations, that must be followed in order to file a lawsuit. This article will explain what statute of limitations are, how they work, and why it is important to understand them in personal injury cases.

What is the Statute of Limitations

Statute of limitations is a legal time limit that determines how long a person has to file a lawsuit. These time limits vary depending on the type of case and the state in which the case is being filed. The goal of the statute of limitations is to ensure that cases are filed in a timely manner, while evidence and memories are still fresh. After its expiration, a person loses their right to file a lawsuit.

How Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases Work

In personal injury cases, the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the injury or from the date when the injury was discovered. This means that a person has a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit after they have been injured.

In most states, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two to three years from the date of the injury. For example, in Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three years from the date of the injury. However, there is a presentment statute, making everything a bit complicated.

According to Chapter 258, Section 4 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the presentment statute applies to personal injury cases involving public employers or public employees. Essentially, the statute requires that an injured party provide notice to the public employer or employee within two years of the date of the injury. The notice must include specific information about the claim, such as the name and address of the claimant, a brief description of the circumstances that led to the injury, and the date, time, and place of the injury.

In addition to the state-specific statute of limitations, there is also federal statute of limitations that applies to personal injury cases. For example, if the injury was caused by a federal employee or on federal property, the statute of limitations may be different than if the injury occurred on a state or private property.

Why Is It Important to Understand the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases

It is important to understand the statute of limitations in personal injury cases because if a person misses the deadline, they lose their right to file a lawsuit. This means that they will not be able to recover any damages for their injuries, even if they have a strong case.

In addition, insurance companies and defendants may use the statute of limitations as a defense to avoid paying damages. If a person files a lawsuit after the expiration of the statute of limitations, the defendant may argue that the case is time-barred and should be dismissed.

Finally, the statute of limitations also plays a role in settlement negotiations. If a person waits too long to file a lawsuit, the defendant may be less likely to settle the case because they know that the plaintiff’s options for recovery are limited.

What Are the Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

There are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations that may extend the time limit for filing a lawsuit. These exceptions are known as tolling or equitable tolling.

Tolling occurs when the statute of limitations is paused for a certain period of time. This may happen if the plaintiff is a minor at the time of the injury, if the defendant is out of the state or country for an extended period of time or if the plaintiff is mentally incapacitated.

Equitable tolling occurs when the plaintiff is unable to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations due to circumstances beyond their control. For example, if the plaintiff was in a coma for several months after the injury, the statute of limitations may be extended to allow for the plaintiff to file a lawsuit once they have recovered.


If you have been injured in Massachusetts, it is essential to be aware of the statute of limitations and its potential impact on your personal injury claim. As these laws dictate the time frame within which a claim must be filed, they play a significant role in determining the success of a personal injury lawsuit. Additionally, it is vital to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can provide guidance on navigating the complexities of these laws and help to secure a favorable outcome. 

Are you looking for the best personal injury lawyer in Boston, MA? Then we can help. At Frank Fernandez Boston Personal Injury Firm, clients are more than just case numbers. Every client is treated with the utmost respect and compassion, as we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll of a personal injury case. Our team takes the time to get to know each client and their unique situation, ensuring that we can provide personalized legal representation tailored to each individual case. Let us work tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for your case! Contact us today to get started!

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