What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Indiana?

Question

What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Indiana?

Answer

First, let’s cut through some of the legalese and explain that a “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a time limit on your right to go to court and ask for a remedy for some type of harm -- that means filing a civil lawsuit. These deadlines vary depending on what kind of case you want to file.

In Indiana, as in the majority of states, the statute of limitations that applies to a car accident lawsuit will almost always be the same one that applies to most personal injury cases.

Specifically, Indiana Code section 34-11-2-4 gives you two years to ask the state courts for a civil remedy for any personal injury or for any damage to your personal property. In the context of a car accident, that means if anyone was hurt in the crash -- whether a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian -- or had their vehicle or other personal property damaged, they must get their lawsuit filed against any potential defendant within two years. The clock starts running on the date of the accident.

A two-year lawsuit filing deadline also applies if the car accident caused someone’s death, and the family or a representative wants to bring an Indiana wrongful death claim. That deadline is set by Indiana Code section 34-23-1-1. And for these cases, the two-year “clock” starts running on the day of the accident victim’s death, which could be later than the date of the accident itself.

Whether it’s an injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, the case will almost certainly hinge on whether the allegedly-at-fault driver’s negligence was the cause. Learn more about Proving Fault for a Car Accident.

If you try to file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations deadline has already passed, the defendant is sure to ask the court to dismiss the case, and the court is very likely to agree.

Finally, from a strategic standpoint, it’s always a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit. At the very least, keeping all your options on the table will give you more leverage during car accident settlement talks. So if the two-year statute of limitations deadline is approaching, you may want to talk with an experienced Indiana car accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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