What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Massachusetts?
First things first. For those who aren’t fluent in legalese, a “statute of limitations” is a state law that limits the amount of time a prospective plaintiff has to go to court and file the initial complaint (the document that signals the start of a lawsuit). These deadlines are measured in years, and they vary depending on the kind of harm or loss that was suffered.
In Massachusetts, if anyone was injured in a car accident -- whether a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian -- they must get their lawsuit filed within three years of the date of the crash, according to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260 section 2A.
If someone died as a result of the accident, and the executor or administrator of the deceased person wants to file a Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver, under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 229 section 2, the deadline for starting that case is also three years. But keep in mind that the “clock” starts running as of the date of the deceased person’s death (a date that might be different from the date of the accident).
Whether it’s a personal injury case or a wrongful death claim, the lawsuit will almost certainly be based on the legal argument that a driver’s negligence was the cause of the car accident. Learn more about Car Accidents Caused by Negligence.
What happens if you try to file your lawsuit after the three-year deadline has passed? The court will almost certainly refuse to consider your case. That’s why it’s so important to understand Massachusetts’s statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits, and how the rule applies to your situation.
On a strategy note, even if you’re confident that your case will be resolved through the insurance claim process, you want to make sure you have plenty of time to file a car accident lawsuit. At the very least, that will give you more leverage during settlement talks. If the filing deadline is coming up, it may be time to contact an experienced Massachusetts car accident attorney to discuss your options.
by: David Goguen, J.D.