The statute of limitations is the window of time in which an accident victim (plaintiff) is permitted to bring a lawsuit. In most Nevada personal injury cases, this time limit is two (2) years from the date the plaintiff discovers – or should have discovered – the injury.
Once the statute of limitations passes, victims may lose their right to sue for damages arising from that wrongdoing or injury.1 However, there are many situations where a statute of limitations gets “tolled” (suspended) until long after the injury occurred.2
The most common Nevada limitation periods are:
Injury type in Nevada
Statute of limitations in civil cases
(after discovery of the injury)
|Personal injury (caused by negligence in Nevada)||2 years|
|Property damage||3 years|
|Wrongful death in Nevada||2 years|
|Defamation (slander / libel) in Nevada||2 years|
|Products liability in Nevada||4 years|
|False imprisonment||2 years|
|Medical malpractice in Nevada||1 year (3 years max)|
|Other malpractice||2 years (4 years max)|
|Asbestos exposure||1 year|
|Construction defect (injury or death)||6 years|
|Breach of oral contract||4 years|
|Breach of written contract||6 years|
To help you better understand the law, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers discuss the following below:
- 1. What is the time limit to bring an injury lawsuit in Nevada?
- 2. What is the limitations period for malpractice claims?
- 3. Are there special rules for injuries to minor children?
- 4. When is the limitation period “tolled”?
- 5. Can I do anything if the limitation period has expired?
- 6. What is the “discovery rule” in Nevada?
Most Nevada personal injury claims have a two (2) year statute of limitations.
However, the statute of limitations usually does not start to run until you knew — or should have known — of the injury. This is important since many injuries do not appear until well after the accident.
For instance, mesothelioma (asbestos poisoning) injuries in Nevada often do not show up for many decades after exposure to asbestos. In such cases, it is common for lawsuits to be filed years — or even decades — after the harm occurred.
Common Nevada claims with a two (2) year statute include:
- Accidents in Nevada,
- Defamation (slander or libel),
- False imprisonment (civil),
- Assault and battery (civil), and
- Wrongful death
Other causes of action may have a longer limitations period (as indicated in the chart above). Some claims with longer periods include property damage and products liability.3
The statute of limitations in Nevada professional negligence (malpractice) cases is calculated differently than other cases.
As in other personal injury matters, people injured by malpractice have limited time to sue after they discover — or should have discovered — that they are injured.
However, there is an outside date by which the suit must be brought. This date is usually based on the date the malpractice occurred.
Time limit to sue in Nevada
|Legal malpractice in Nevada, or
|The earlier of:
|Medical malpractice occurring after 2002||The earlier of:
|Accounting Malpractice||The earliest of:
Nevada’s statute of limitations is usually “tolled” (suspended) while a plaintiff is under the age of 18, except in medical malpractice cases.7 Tolling acts as a sort of legal “time-out.”
Example: 12-year old Dee Dee is in the car with her mother when they are hit by someone who is driving under the influence in Nevada. Both Dee Dee and her mother are injured. Dee Dee’s mother has just two (2) years from the accident in which to sue the driver for injuries. But Dee Dee can sue until she is 20 (two years after she turns 18).
The chart below spells out the time limits to sue in certain types of lawsuits involving minors:
Claims involving a child victim
Statute of Limitations under Nevada state law
|Medical malpractice||Within 1 year of discovering the injury, but there are exceptions:
|Sexual abuse||10 years from the later of:
|Pornography||The later of:
In any case, adults who were injured or abused as minors should always consult an attorney to see if they have the standing to sue.
Below are five reasons in Nevada why the time limit to bring a claim may be paused:
- Legal, veterinary, or accounting malpractice: The statute of limitations does not run while an attorney, veterinarian, or accountant conceals any unlawful act, and the plaintiff did not know — or should have known — about it.12
- Out-of-state defendant: The time limit to sue in Nevada does not run while the defendant is outside of Nevada.13
- Death of the injured party: A person’s estate usually has one (1) year after that person’s death to bring a claim as long as the statute of limitations was still running when he/she died.14
- Party is a citizen of a country the U.S. is at war with: The time limit to sue tolls when one of the parties to a lawsuit is a citizen of a country that the U.S. is currently at war with.15
- Reversal of judgment: When a court case gets overturned, any claims arising out of that reversal must be brought within one (1) year of the reversal.16
Also, scroll down to section 6 to learn how the “discovery rule” may toll the time limit to sue.
Before you conclude that too much time has passed to file your lawsuit in Nevada, please check with an experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney.
You are not necessarily out of luck if the time limit to sue in Nevada has expired. There may be another statute or legal theory under which you can bring suit.
For instance, you may have more time to file suit if your attorney can argue that the defendant’s negligent actions violated a verbal contract. The time limit to sue for breach of a verbal contract is four (4) years. That is twice as long as the statute of limitations for negligence claims.17
Additionally, you may be legally entitled to extra time to file suit if fraud or a reasonable mistake kept you from discovering the facts in your case. Scroll down to the next section to learn how the “discovery rule” doctrine can extend the time limits to sue.
In any case, is important to consult an experienced Las Vegas or Reno personal injury lawyer in order to determine whether your right to sue has expired.
Also known as the “inquiry notice doctrine,” the discovery rule extends the time limit to sue if:
- The nature of the legal claim was somehow hidden from the plaintiff,
- The plaintiff did not purposely or negligently avoid discovering the claim, and
- It would be only fair to let the plaintiff have more time to file the claim19
Example: Helen’s friend steals $1,000 out of her safe while Helen is abroad for a year. Helen had no reason to suspect her friend stole from her. Helen checks her safe as soon as she comes back, and she discovers the $1,000 is gone. Helen’s friend is the only other person who knows the safe combination. In this case, the time limit for Helen to sue her friend would not begin running until Helen “discovered” the missing money — not when the actual theft occurred.
In the above example, Helen showed “due diligence” by checking her safe as soon as she got home. Had she not checked the safe for several more years, a court might find that she unnecessarily delayed discovering possible claims against her: The court might then insist that the statute of limitations began running shortly after Helen came home, not when she actually discovered the theft years later.
Have you or a loved one been injured? We create attorney-client relationships throughout the state of Nevada. We bring legal actions in both state civil courts and United States federal courts.
- NRS 11.190; Milton v. Nev. Dep’t of Prisons, 119 Nev. 163, 68 P.3d 895 (2003)(“NRS 11.190(4)(e) requires that actions seeking damages for personal injuries must be brought within two years from the date upon which the cause of action arises.”).
- Nevada Revised Statute 11.010.
- See NRS 11.190(3)
- NRS 11.207(1).
- NRS 41A.097(2).
- NRS 11.2075 (1).
- NRS 11.250; Smith v. Reno, 580 F. Supp. 591(D. Nev. 1984)
- NRS 41A.097(4)(a).
- NRS 41A.097(4)(b).
- NRS 11.215(1).
- NRS 11.215 (2); See also NRS 41.1396.
- NRS 11.207 (2); NRS 11.2075 (2).
- NRS 11.300.
- NRS 11.310.
- NRS 11.330.
- NRS 11.340.
- NRS 11.190 (2).
- Petersen v. Bruen, 792 P.2d 18, 106 Nev. 271, (1990)