This is the next article in our series on the statute of limitations for various civil cases in Oklahoma.  The last article discussed the statute of limitations for property damage.  In this article, we will talk about the Oklahoma statute of limitations for cases involving personal injury.

The statute of limitation sets the time limit within which the lawsuit must be filed.  Generally, the “clock” starts to tick from the incident date.  After the time limit has passed, you are barred from initiating a lawsuit.  Remember, filing a lawsuit within the statute of limitation is merely a start.  A robust representation not only ensures that the case is filed on time but also helps you navigate the legal complexities with an eye toward a favorable outcome.

If you have been hurt or injured, and are thinking about filing a lawsuit, contact Niroula Law today.  You can reach us online or by telephone.

Oklahoma’s statute of limitations for personal injury is two (2) years

Oklahoma law allows an injured person two years from the date of the incident to initiate a lawsuit.  12 O.S. §95 A(3).  If you get in a car accident, for example, on July 1, 2024, then you have until July 1, 2026, to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.  Or, if you slipped and fell at a store and injured yourself on August 1, 2024, then you have until August 1, 2026, to file a suit against the store.

It’s imperative to initiate your lawsuit within the statutory period to preserve your right to pursue legal action and to be able to collect damages.

Exceptions to the two (2) year statute of limitation for personal injury

The two (2) year statutory time limit is the rule.  Within this time, you must initiate your lawsuit against the person responsible for your injury.  However, there are some exceptions.  We have listed a few of them below.  These exceptions may give the victim more time to file their lawsuit against the responsible party.

A person under any legal disability

If a person is under any legal disability (mental or physical), then that person is allowed to bring a personal injury lawsuit within one (1) year after the disability is removed.  12 O.S. §96.  For example, a person slips and falls in a store on June 1, 2024, and is mentally incompetent at the time of injury.  But then, he is declared competent on June 1, 2027. The person has one year from June 1, 2027, within which to initiate a lawsuit.  Doesn’t matter that it has been past the two-year mark since his injury.

A minor who is 12 years or older

Similarly, if a minor 12 or older is injured, then they can bring a lawsuit within one year of turning 18 years of age. 12 O.S. §96.  Or, if the parents wish to bring the suit on behalf of the minor, then they have two years to do so.  A minor gets in a car accident on July 1, 2019, and will turn 18 on September 10, 2022.  He has until September 10, 2023, to sue the person responsible for his injuries, if he wants to sue the responsible party himself.

A minor who is younger than 12 years

However, if the injury involves a child who is younger than 12 years of age and the injury arises out of medical malpractice, then the case must be brought by the minor’s parents within seven (7) years of injury.  Parents of a 9-year-old child who was injured as a result of medical malpractice on May 1, 2019, may bring the lawsuit any time before May 1, 2026.  12 O.S. §96.

Absence or flight of the defendant from Oklahoma

Another situation where the injured party may have more than two years to file their claim is when the party at fault leaves Oklahoma or hides himself.  The statutory clock may be paused for the duration of that party’s absence.  However, there are more nuances to the law.  If you are in a similar situation, please consult an attorney.  For example, if you are injured in a car accident on August 1, 2021, then the two-year statutory period starts on this date.  However, if the at-fault driver leaves Oklahoma after the accident to avoid the lawsuit, then the two-year limitation does not start to accrue until after the at-fault driver returns to Oklahoma.  12 O.S. §98.

The discovery rule for personal injury in Oklahoma

The discovery rule is another exception to the two-year statutory rule. The rule applies when the injuries aren’t immediately apparent and thus can’t be discovered at the time of injury.  The “clock” starts to run from the time the injury is discovered or should have been discovered with reasonable diligence.  For example, a patient in a medical malpractice situation may not begin to experience the symptoms until several years after the surgery.  For this reason, the statute of limitation may begin to run only after the patient starts experiencing the symptoms, and not when the surgery was performed.

OKC Civil Litigator

Filing your lawsuit within the statutory period is only the beginning.  Having a solid representation by your side helps you navigate the treacherous waters of litigation.  If you have been injured because of another’s fault and wish to pursue litigation, we are here to help.  Contact us online or by telephone to get in touch with an Oklahoma litigation law firm and speak to an OKC trial lawyer.