What is the Connecticut Statute of Limitations for Filing a Car Accident Claim?

Injured driver feeling pain on his head from car accident.

If you were involved in an auto accident at little to no fault of your own, you might be entitled to compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. However, you must act quickly to secure the accountability and compensation you deserve.

Connecticut law gives you only two years from the date of a car accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. If you do not comply with the deadline, you may lose your right to seek compensation in court. The personal injury lawyers at Jainchill & Beckert, LLC, are ready to evaluate your case and make sure you do not miss any important deadlines.

With more than a half-century of combined legal experience, our car accident attorneys have a deep knowledge of personal injury law in Connecticut and a long record of success fighting for our clients throughout the state. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer near you.

Car Accident Statistics in Connecticut

Auto accidents are a serious problem throughout the United States, and the numbers are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 42,915 auto accident fatalities nationwide in 2021. This represents a 10.5 percent increase from the 38,824 deaths in the previous year, as well as the highest fatality rate since 2005. The NHTSA further predicts that 20,175 people died in motor vehicle crashes throughout the country in the first half of 2022 alone.

Though geographically small, Connecticut also sees a high rate of accidents on its roads. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), auto accidents within the state led to 1,304 serious injuries and 295 deaths in 2020. In the same year, the five-year average death rate reached 284.4 and the serious-injury rate reached 1,467.8.

The economic cost of auto accidents each year is enormous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), auto accident deaths led to $55 billion in medical and work-loss costs in 2018. In Connecticut alone, these costs soared to $434 million in that same year, not to mention the incalculable loss suffered by surviving loved ones of killed victims.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Connecticut for Auto Accidents?

All personal injury lawsuits are governed by a filing deadline known as the statute of limitations. In Connecticut, the standard deadline to file a car accident lawsuit is two years from the date of the crash. Though limited exceptions exist, it is best to file your case sooner than later.

Two years may sound like a long time. However, building a strong personal injury case can take weeks or months. Further, the longer you wait after an accident to file your case, the more risk there is that critical evidence will deteriorate or disappear, as well as that witness memories will begin to fade.

The sooner you have your accident reviewed by an attorney, the sooner they can begin laying a strong foundation for your case. Among other things, they will have more time to preserve critical evidence, investigate the governing law, identify all possible sources of compensation, and ensure that no deadlines are missed.

Can the Statute of Limitations Be Extended?

Yes. There are very limited exceptions to the two-year deadline. Technically, these exceptions do not actually “extend” the two years. Instead, they simply pause (“toll”) the countdown in the following circumstances:

  • Defendant Concealed Evidence – If the defendant in a car accident fraudulently conceals evidence of their liability, the two-year countdown begins on the date the evidence is discovered.
  • Defendant Left the State – If the defendant tries to avoid liability for the crash by leaving the state, the time they spend away will be excluded from the two-year countdown.
  • Latent Injuries Discovered Later – Finally, in the event the injuries you sustain do not become apparent until some time has passed after the accident, the countdown might begin when those injuries are discovered or should reasonably have been discovered.

Even if one of these exceptions applies in your case, state law sets an absolute deadline of three years for filing your claim. Further, though many states have created special exceptions to their statutes of limitations in cases involving minors and the disabled, Connecticut has no such exceptions on the books.

What Are the Consequences If I Miss the Deadline?

Do not miss the two-year deadline for filing your auto accident lawsuit. Doing so will have a seriously negative impact on your ability to seek full and fair compensation from the at-fault party and their insurers.

Statutes of limitations are meant to encourage plaintiffs to bring their cases to court sooner than later. This protects defendants from being unfairly summoned to court years and years after the underlying cause of action has passed. It also helps keep courts from being inundated by late filings. To make sure these goals are met, statutes of limitations are strictly enforced.

If you attempt to file your case after the governing deadline passes, the opposing party will move to have your case dismissed for untimeliness. If none of the exceptions described above apply, courts are required to grant this request.

In turn, this result will destroy your bargaining power when negotiating an out-of-court settlement with the at-fault party and their insurers. This is because the threat of a lawsuit acts as your primary bargaining chip during negotiations. If you lose it, the other side will have nothing to disincentivize them from making their lowest settlement offer, and you will have little leverage to push back.

Contact a Connecticut Car Accident Lawyer Today

At Jainchill & Beckert, LLC, our attorneys take every car accident seriously. Whether handling minor fender benders at neighborhood street corners or catastrophic highway collisions, we are committed to providing personalized service and excellent legal representation to all of our clients.

While you focus on recovering from your injuries, let our skilled, compassionate lawyers handle your auto accident claim. Call us today to learn more about your legal options in a free consultation.

Author Bill Beckert

For over three decades, Bill has dedicated his career to helping injury victims throughout Connecticut secure justice and accountability for injuries sustained at little to no fault of their own. In all cases, he places the best interest of his clients above all else. Describing the services we provide here at the firm, he explains, “We are fighters who work to ensure that our clients are informed and empowered so that we can achieve an outcome that provides peace of mind.”

After graduating from the University of Connecticut in 1989, he then earned his law degree in 1993 from the Western New England University School of Law. Since then, he has striven to make sure every client who steps into his office gets the high-quality representation and undivided attention they deserve. In recognition of his work, Bill has been listed in The National Trial Lawyers Top 100.