After suffering a serious injury in Connecticut, you may have many questions about recovering your damages. Damages in a personal injury claim refer to the economic and non-economic consequences of an injury caused by another party’s negligence, reckless action, or purposeful wrongdoing. When a preventable injury occurs due to someone else’s actions, the victim shouldn’t be left responsible for the injury-related expenses. Connecticut allows injury victims to seek compensation from the at-fault party—typically through an appropriate insurance policy, like auto insurance coverage in a car accident claim or a business owner’s commercial liability insurance in a slip-and-fall accident. But before you begin the process of seeking compensation, it’s critical to understand the timeframe for a personal injury claim. Many personal injury clients ask, “How long do I have to file a personal injury claim in Connecticut?”
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut
Like all states, Connecticut places a limit on the amount of time an injury victim has to file a claim for their damages. In Connecticut, victims of preventable injuries caused by an at-fault party have two years from the date the injury occurred to file a personal injury lawsuit. Under most circumstances, this gives an injury victim’s attorney time to investigate the injury, document evidence of liability, carefully calculate damages, and craft a compelling case for the insurance company. Typically, some negotiations take place before the insurance company and injury victim agree on an out-of-court settlement amount. In less than 10% of cases, the insurance company wrongfully denies a claim or seriously undervalues it. If this occurs, the attorney for the injury victim must file a lawsuit in court within two years from the date of the injury.
Connecticut’s Extended Time Limit Delayed Discovery of Personal Injury Claims
In some cases, Connecticut courts extend the statute of limitations for personal injury claims for up to one year past the two-year limit. This extension exists for cases of delayed discovery of an injury. For example, if a doctor later diagnoses a nagging backache as a serious burst fracture of a vertebra caused by a car accident the victim experienced months ago, the two-year statute of limitations begins on the date of discovery—but only as long as it doesn’t extend beyond the third year from the date of the accident.
The court might also “toll” or delay the time limit when a minor suffers an injury. In these cases, the two-year time limit begins on the date of the victim’s 18th birthday.
Why Do States Limit the Amount of Time a Victim Has to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Connecticut’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims serves several important purposes. The time limit ensures that evidence in a case is still available and eyewitness testimony reliable should a case require court litigation. The time limit also protects defendants from the long-term threat of a lawsuit.
The timing of a personal injury claim is important. Most injury victims don’t know the extent of their financial damages immediately after the accident. Some insurance companies take advantage of this fact by quickly offering a low settlement amount that might not cover all of the victim’s damages like medical expenses and lost wages. On the other hand, if a victim waits too long to file a claim, the insurance companies know that the court will toss out a case that’s past the two-year time limit, so they may not offer an adequate settlement.