New Jersey Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations are laws that set forth how long a person has to file a lawsuit or claim in different types of cases. If a plaintiff fails to file the lawsuit within this time, then he or she is usually barred from pursuing the case.

What Are the Statutes of Limitations in New Jersey?

Generally, New Jersey’s statutes of limitations require that lawsuits be brought within the following periods:

  • Personal Injury Lawsuits:
    • Adults - within 2 years of the date the injury occurred;
    • Minors - within 2 years of the person’s 18th birthday. (N.J. Stat. § 2A-14-2(a)).
  • Medical Malpractice Lawsuits:
    • Adults - within 2 years of the time a person could or should have known that malpractice was committed;
    • Minors - within 2 years of the person's 18th birthday (except for injuries which occurred at birth, see below);
    • Minors (for injury at birth, only if born before July 2004) - within 2 years of the person’s 18th birthday;
    • Minors (for injury at birth, only if born after July 2004) - by the person’s 13th birthday. (N.J. Stat. § 2A:14-2(a), (b)).
  • Wrongful Death Claims:
    • Within 2 years of the death (claims for pain and suffering prior to death must be brought within the 2-year time limits set forth above). (N.J. Stat. § 2A:31-3).
  • Product Liability Lawsuits:
    • Within 2 years of the date of occurrence. (N.J. Stat. § 2A-14-2(a)).
  • Slander/Libel Claims:
    • Within 1 year of the publication of the alleged libel or slander. (N.J. Stat. § 2A:14-3).
  • Legal Malpractice, Fraud, Trespass, Types of Contract Disputes:
    • Within 6 years of the injury, occurrence, or offense. (N.J. Stat. § 2A:14-1). Some contract claims have up to 16 years (N.J. Stat. § 2A:14-4).
  • Assault and Battery, False Imprisonment, Certain Specified Claims:
    • Within 2 years of the date of occurrence. (N.J. Stat. § 2A-14-2(a)).
  • Lawsuits Against Public Entities; County, State, or Municipal Entities; or Affiliated Institutions:
    • Adults - Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days of the occurrence;
    • Minors - no later than within 90 days of the person’s 18th or 13th birthday (depending upon whether or not there is a medical malpractice claim for an injury which occurred at birth - see above).
    This is not a complete list. These time limits can be found in various statutes, including, but not limited to, the New Jersey Statutes Annotated at N.J.S.A. 2A:14 and N.J.S.A. 2A:31 (wrongful death actions). To read applicable sections, log on to the New Jersey State Legislature Database.

    Why Do Statutes of Limitations Exist?

    • To Preserve Evidence: The more time that passes, the more likely that evidence can be lost or circumstances change, and witnesses’ memories may fade.
    • For Fairness to the Parties: If lawsuits could be brought at any time, defendants would be at a disadvantage because they might not have access to evidence if too much time has passed.

    Nevertheless, there are exceptions to the above periods. For example, if an injury is not immediately obvious - say environmental exposure has caused a later illness - that period can be “tolled.” In this instance, the time limit clock does not begin to tick until the injury is discovered or until the person is capable of bringing a lawsuit (as in the case of a minor).

    For more comprehensive and updated information on local statutes of limitations, always consult with legal counsel. Contact Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari at (973) 635-5400 to understand the applicable time limits for your specific case.

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