Is There a Statute of Limitations for Suing After a Car Accident in Massachusetts?
If you were injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you deserve compensation. To get that compensation, you will need to file your complaint according to the applicable rules of procedure.
One such rule is the statute of limitations. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for car accident injury lawsuits runs for three years after the accident. If the victim was a minor at the time of the accident, or the defendant left the state, the statute of limitations may be extended. However, if you miss the deadline, the other party can file a motion to dismiss your case and you could be left without just compensation.
The Law Office of John J. Sheehan can help you navigate the minefield of procedural rules in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts court system. Our dedicated Boston car accident attorneys can offer you a complimentary consultation on your case when you schedule with us today. To get started, call our offices at (617) 925-6407.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Injury Lawsuits in Massachusetts
Every state has its own laws that dictate when a potential plaintiff can file their civil claim. These laws are called the “statutes of limitations.” Courts take a plaintiff’s adherence to the statute of limitations very seriously. If you don’t file your claim within the allotted time frame, your case will be thrown out and you won’t be able to recover.
The applicable statute of limitations for car accident injury lawsuits is found under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260 § 2A. Personal injury victims in Massachusetts, including those injured in car accidents, have three years from the date that the cause of action accrues to file their suit. For car accidents, the date that the cause of action accrues is almost always the date of the actual accident.
For example, if you were injured in a car accident on September 1, 2020, you would have until September 1, 2023 to file your formal complaint with the appropriate county court clerk.
Three years may seem like plenty of time to file a lawsuit. However, you may not be aware of how long it takes to prepare a complaint and what goes into the pre-filing process, such as identifying defendants and estimating potential damages. While your actual trial may take only one or two days, it is what you do in advance that determines whether you will succeed. The sooner you act, the sooner you may recover the injury compensation that you deserve. Reach out to one of our Boston car accident lawyers today to get the process started.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Massachusetts
There are some exceptions that may delay or extend the clock on the statute of limitations. While you should not rely on any of these exceptions to delay action on your case, it can be helpful to be aware of them.
One exception exists for car accident injury victims who were minors or incapacitated due to mental illness at the time of the accident. In these situations, the clock does not start to run until the victim reaches the age of majority (18 years old in Massachusetts) or until their mental competence is restored.
Another exception applies where the at-fault driver leaves Massachusetts following the accident. The court may discount the time that the defendant spends outside the Commonwealth from the toll of the statute of limitations in your case. In other words, for as long as the responsible party is outside of the state, the clock will remain paused.
Notification Requirements for Suing the Government After a Massachusetts Car Accident
Just as there are exceptions that may extend the statute of limitations, there are also exceptions that can shorten your deadline for action. Specifically, you may face a shorter timeline if you plan to file a suit against a government entity for your injuries. State, county, or municipal government bodies may be responsible for your injuries if one of their agents caused the accident. Examples of these situations include accidents with school buses, police cars, or other government-operated vehicles.
Most governments require that plaintiffs provide them with notice in order to properly bring a complaint against them. These notice requirements are almost always shorter than the state-wide three-year statute of limitations. The specific time limit for notice will depend on the nature of the lawsuit, the government body involved, and the jurisdiction where the suit is to be filed. Rather than trying to determine what limits apply to your case on your own, we strongly recommend that you contact our Cambridge car accident attorneys as soon as possible.
Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Car Accident in Massachusetts
If you recently lost a loved one or family member in a car accident, you may be able to recover compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. However, wrongful death claims are also subject to a statute of limitations. In Massachusetts, wrongful death claims also must be filed within a three-year time frame. However, this requirement is slightly different from a car accident injury case. The clock only begins to run on the date that the victim dies, as opposed to the date of the accident itself.
Wrongful death lawsuits may take even longer than personal injury claims to prepare, as you will need to identify and notify all possible beneficiaries of the lawsuit. Our Malden car accident attorneys can help you through this complicated process.
File Your Car Accident Lawsuit on Time with the Help of John J. Sheehan
If you want to recover, it is critical that you act now and avoid exceeding the statute of limitations. To get started today, schedule your appointment with the Wakefield car accident attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan. You can reach our offices at (617) 925-6407.