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After my injury, how long do I have to file a lawsuit?

Even if months or years have passed since your accident, you may still have a case.

You may not have known that your accident merited a case until recently. You may simply have been struggling to recover. Fortunately, the law accommodates cases for several years after an inciting incident. Even if that time has passed, you may still be able to file because of legal exceptions.

Different states set different statutes of limitations for different types of cases. A statute of limitations is, essentially, a time limit. In the District of Columbia, the law gives you three years to file a personal injury lawsuit after the incident occurs. After the three years pass, you lose your right to pursue your case in court unless one or more exceptions apply to your case.

Do note, however, that if you have a contract with an employer, it may shorten the normal statutory limitations period for personal injury cases against that employer. As such, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as you feel you might have a case.

Some crucial facts may only be discovered well after the statutory limitations period has ended. Some injuries only become apparent months or years later. In such cases, the discovery rule may apply. As its name suggests, the discovery rule offers a victim a new period of time to file a case after new information about the incident or its circumstances appears.

If you have not filed because of extenuating circumstances like age, mental disability or bankruptcy, an attorney may be able to argue for a toll, a pause or delay to the passing of the normal statute of limitations.

No matter when your accident took place, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you evaluate your specific circumstances.

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