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What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Wisconsin?

When you get injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault in Wisconsin, it is important to understand the statute of limitations for personal injury. Wisconsin law does not give you an indefinite amount of time to assert your legal rights. Wisconsin’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims imposes a strict deadline; and, if you miss this deadline, you can lose the ability to recover the financial compensation you deserve.

Wisconsin’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims: An Overview 

In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years from the date that you get injured. While there are a few exceptions (as discussed below), this is the general rule—and it applies in the vast majority of circumstances. Section 893.54 of the Wisconsin Statutes states that “[a]n action to recover damages for injuries to the person, including an action to recover damages for injuries to the person caused or sustained by or arising from an accident involving a motor vehicle” must be “commenced within three years.” Any claim not commenced within three years will “be barred.” 

Along with the three-year deadline, one of the most important things to understand about Wisconsin’s personal injury statute of limitations is what it means to “commence” an action for recovery. This does not mean filing an insurance claim. If you file an insurance claim and your claim is still pending three years after your accident, your right to recover just compensation will expire. 

Instead, to protect your legal rights, you must file a lawsuit in court before the three-year deadline. Even if you are in the middle of dealing with the insurance companies, if you don’t file a lawsuit in time, the statute of limitations will still expire. The insurance companies know this; and, if it takes three years to resolve your claim, they will simply wait for the expiration date to pass and then deny coverage for your injuries. 

Are There Any Exceptions to Wisconsin’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations? 

As we mentioned above, there are a few exceptions to Wisconsin’s personal injury statute of limitations. Two of these exceptions extend the deadline to file, while the third shortens it:

  • The Discovery Rule – If you could not have reasonably discovered your injury on the date that it happened, the statute of limitations does not start to run until you should be aware of your condition. This is most common in cases involving nursing home negligence, though there are other possibilities as well. 
  • Injuries to Minors – Minors have until two years after their 18th birthday to file a personal injury claim. This is true regardless of how old they are when they get injured. 
  • Claims Against Government Entities – Claims against government entities are subject to special rules and requirements. Among them, accident victims who have claims against government entities must generally start the process within 180 days of the accident. 

What Happens When the Statute of Limitations Expires? 

Let’s say you were injured in an accident and you never got around to filing a claim. Now, it’s been almost three years, and Wisconsin’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is about to run out. What happens if you let the statute of limitations expire?

Like we discussed in the introduction, the statute of limitations establishes a strict deadline. If you miss the deadline by even a day, you will lose the ability to seek just compensation for the financial and non-financial costs of your injuries. No matter how much you were entitled to recover previously, once the time window to assert your legal rights closes, you are no longer entitled to any financial compensation. This makes it extremely important to take legal action while you still have the opportunity to do so. 

Even Though You Have Three Years (In Most Cases), You Should Still Take Action Promptly 

Even though the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years (in most cases), you should still take action promptly. After a vehicle collision or any other type of accident, it is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. The statute of limitations isn’t the only factor to consider; and, the longer you wait to speak with a lawyer, the more difficult it could become to obtain the financial compensation you deserve. 

Discuss Your Case with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Madison, Wisconsin

Do you need to know more about filing a personal injury claim in Wisconsin? If so, we invite you to contact Boller & Vaughan for a FREE case evaluation. We have extensive experience handling a range of personal injury cases. We understand the hardships faced by real people after a serious injury and we know what it takes to pursue the maximum compensation to which you may be entitled under the law.
Contact us today online or at (608) 268-0268 to speak with an experienced lawyer in confidence.