What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Connecticut?
First, we should explain that a “statute of limitations” is simply a state law that puts a time limit on a potential plaintiff’s right to bring a lawsuit in one of the state’s civil courts. These deadlines vary depending on the kind of case you want to file, but the deadline is almost always expressed in years.
In Connecticut, as in the majority of states, the statute of limitations that will affect a car accident lawsuit is usually the same as the larger one that applies to most personal injury cases.
Specifically, General Statutes of Connecticut section 52-584 says, “No action to recover damages for injury to the person, or to real or personal property, caused by negligence, or by reckless or wanton misconduct…shall be brought but within two years from the date when the injury is first sustained.”
In plain English, that means after a car accident, an injury claim filed by a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian must be filed within two years of the date of the crash. That same deadline applies to a lawsuit over vehicle damage caused by an accident.
If the car accident caused someone’s death, and the family or other representative of the deceased person wants to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash, the deadline for filing that kind of lawsuit is also two years, but the clock starts running from the date of the victim’s death, and that date might be different from the date of the accident. And General Statutes of Connecticut section 52-555 makes clear that no Connecticut wrongful death claim can be made if more than five years have passed since the date of the act the underlying accident.
So, what happens if the statute of limitations deadline has passed, but you try to file your car accident lawsuit anyway? The person you’re trying to sue will point out to the court that the deadline has passed, and the court will almost certainly dismiss the case. That’s why it’s so important to understand how the statute of limitations applies to your situation.
It’s always a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit in case you need to, even if you’re pretty sure your case will be resolved through a car insurance settlement. Keeping all your options on the table will give you more leverage during settlement negotiations too. If the statute of limitations filing deadline is fast approaching, it may be time to talk with an experienced Connecticut car accident attorney to make sure your options are preserved.
by: David Goguen, J.D.