The simplest answer – and usually the right one – is that you must file a lawsuit within two years of any car accident that occurs in Ohio, or you will lose the right to recover money for a personal injury claim from the person who caused the accident and their insurance company. This is called the statute of limitations. But the answer can change, depending on the situation. For instance:
• If the lawsuit could be filed in another state, then you must file the suit within the shorter period of limitations between the two states. For instance, if you can file the lawsuit in either Ohio or Kentucky, then you have to file within the shorter of the two statutory periods of limitation, or by the earlier deadline.
• If the person who caused the accident dies before being sued, it is possible that you may be required to file suit well before the end of the two year period.
• If you are under 18 at the time you are injured, you have until your twentieth birthday to file suit for negligence or injuries caused in an auto accident.
• If the person you are suing does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance, you probably have until three years after the accident to file suit against your uninsured/underinsured motorist insurer, if the policy was issued in Ohio. But you may still have to file a lawsuit against the other driver within the two year period in order to preserve your rights to recover under the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. (This is a mouthful, and it’s hard to understand. This is part of the reason why you need a lawyer.)
• And lawsuits for medical or legal malpractice have to be filed within one year after the later of either (1) the termination of your professional relationship with the doctor or lawyer in question or (2) the date you should have realized that you were probably injured by malpractice. Since the second period can be subject to various interpretations, it is best to file suit within the shorter of the two periods.
It’s not a good idea to wait too long to file a suit, even if you don’t have to worry about the statute of limitations; the defendant may question how badly you are hurt. I have seen a jury be very curious about why an injured person waited almost two years before filing. At the same time, it is important to allow enough time for a good faith attempt to settle the case.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years, and I deal with questions about the statute of limitations daily. If you want to know more about how long you have to file suit, why not speak with an experienced Cincinnati Injury Lawyer – call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775 in Cincinnati.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.