When you can sue – The “Statute of Limitations”

A statute of limitations is a law which places a time limit on when a person is able to sue someone for wrongful conduct. Once this amount of time has passed, unless a legal exception applies, you lose the right to file a lawsuit.

So How Long Is The Period?

There are in fact many statutes of limitations in Maryland Law.  The period that a person has in which to file suit depends on what the person claims in their lawsuit.  It can be quite confusing and difficult to keep track of the statute periods and the exceptions to these rules.  This is why we encourage you to contact our firm as quickly as possible after an incident occurs to discuss the matter, determine which statute of limitations applies, and help you protect your right to recover damages for your injuries.

Specific Civil Actions

Here are a couple of examples of Statutory Limitation periods in Maryland for you to look at.  It is important to realize that someone’s conduct could bring rise to more than one cause of action.  Therefore, if one limitation period has run, there may be another claim that you may be able to bring.  There may also be an exception to the limitations period that applies to your situation.  Our Maryland Attorney can help explain and verify the relevant statutory period for your claim and help make sure your lawsuit is filed within the necessary time period.

  • Libel / Slander / Defamation: 1 year.

  • Injury to Personal Property: 3 years.

  • Product Liability: 3 years.

  • Contracts: Written, 3 years; Written and under seal, 12 years.

  • Professional Malpractice: Medical malpractice actions must be commenced within five years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to injury, or within three years of its discovery, whichever period is shorter.

  • Personal Injury: Most intentional torts, 1 year; Most torts based upon negligent conduct, 3 years.

  • Fraud: 3 years.

Click HERE for a complete list or Maryland Statutes of Limitations.

Accrual of Claims

A statute of limitations is said to start running at the time a claim accrues. Ordinarily, that is the time at which an injury is suffered.

The Discovery Rule

Sometimes it is quite difficult to figure out the cause of an injury or even to know that an injury has occurred until an extended period of time after the actual cause of the injury. For example, a product may not be known to cause cancer until many years after the product has been used. When it applies, the “discovery rule” allows you to sue within a certain period of time after the injury is discovered, or reasonably should have been discovered.  The discovery rule does not always apply and the period of time for bringing a claim after you discover it can be short so it is important to contact a lawyer quickly whenever an injury is discovered.

Tolling of the Statute of Limitations

You may also argue that a statute has been “tolled” in some instances.  A statute is “tolled” when something has stopped the statute from running for a period of time. Some reasons for tolling a statute of limitations are the victim of the injury was a minor at the time the injury occurred (minority), the victim was not mentally competent at the time (mental incompetence), and the “automatic stay” in bankruptcy until the bankruptcy is resolved or the stay is lifted.

Contractual Limitations

A statute of limitation can be shortened by a clause that is included in a contract. Courts have upheld these clauses even though they provide for a shorter limitations period than the statute of limitations would otherwise apply.

If you have been injured, contact our Howard County Attorney as soon as possible to be sure that you do not miss your opportunity to file a claim and recover for your damages. Our Maryland Attorney is located in Columbia, Maryland, and practices throughout Howard County and Maryland.  Call us at 410-730-4404.