A statute of limitations is a period of time that the law requires that a lawsuit must be filed in a court of law.  If an action is not filed within the statute of limitations, then the law bars or prevents that action from ever being brought in a court of law.  States other than Louisiana, refer to the time period to bring a lawsuit as the statute of limitations.  In Louisiana, the statute of limitations is called prescription or the prescriptive period.

Each state has its own specific statute of limitations for each type of lawsuit that may be brought.  For instance, a state’s statute of limitations for bringing a personal injury claim may be much different than that state’s statute of limitations for bringing a claim for breach of contract. And there are always exceptions to the statute of limitations rules that may allow a lawsuit to be brought after the normal statute of limitations period expires.

In Louisiana, the prescriptive period for filing a personal injury action is one year from the date of the accident.  If that personal injury caused the wrongful death of a victim, the prescriptive period is one year from the date of the death of the victim.

A one-year statute of limitations or prescriptive period is a very short time-frame to institute a lawsuit.  And there is only two other states that imposes such a short statute of limitations in personal injury matters, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Most states have a two-year (2) statute of limitations in which to bring a personal injury matter:

  • Alabama                     Indiana                 Texas   
  • Alaska                           Iowa                      Virginia
  • Arizona                         Kansas                  West Virginia
  • California                     Minnesota
  • Connecticut                Nevada
  • Delaware                     New Jersey
  • Georgia                        Ohio
  • Hawaii                           Oklahoma
  • Idaho                            Oregon
  • Illinois                           Pennsylvania

Some states like Maine and North Dakota have statute of limitations as long as six (6) years for personal injury actions.  Florida, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming each have a four-year (4) statute of limitations in a personal injury matter.

The above listed statutes of limitations are a general guide and may not cover all types of personal injury matters.  For instance, in Kentucky, although most personal injury claims have a statute of limitations of 1 year, car accident claims (which are also personal injury matters) have a statute of limitations of two-years (2). 

And because there are many different types of exceptions that states may use to toll or suspend the running of the statute of limitations, you should not attempt to figure out the statute of limitations without the advice and/or consultation of an attorney.