What is a Statute of Limitations?

Jane Akre
June 14, 2012

If you are considering filing a legal action, you’ve probably heard the term “Statute of Limitations.”

A “statute” is the common law that sets the time frame within which you have to file a lawsuit. A filing outside of that time frame may mean it is too late to prosecute the person or company responsible for your injury. This applies to personal injury or civil law but there is also a statute on criminal acts.

One exception - a murder is a criminal action and does not have a statute of limitations.

A vaginal or hernia mesh injury is considered a product liability case, also known as a defective product lawsuit and is a civil action.

So when does the clock start? When the plaintiff (the injured party) knew or should have reasonably known about his or her injury. Some states actually begin the clock when the injury occurred, which may not be the same time when your pain began.

That may partially explain why you see aggressive lawsuit advertisements on television, billboards and flyers. For many people, legal ads are the only way they find out about mesh complications.

A plaintiff should be aware of the time limitations within which to file an action because some law firms delay in filing or a legal referral service may not be timely in passing it onto the appropriate law firm. It is up to the injured party then to be mindful that the clock is ticking and remain on top of their case rather than hand it off and hope for the best.

This is not intended to be legal advice, just an explanation by a non-lawyer. Check with your law firm to make sure you understate the Statute of Limitations and that they understand the time frame of your injury.

Learn More:

The Statute may change over time, Nolo Press provides a “rough guide” to look up your state. Here.

Findlaw has more on the statutes in your state:


Here is Cornell Law on the Statute of Limitations:


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