Most civil claims are governed by a statute of limitation which means that the claim must be filed in the Courthouse within that period of time otherwise the claim is forever barred according to injury attorney Brien Roche. In regards to many injury claims, the statute of limitation is either two (2) or three (3) years depending on the local jurisdiction. Property damage claims may be governed by different statute of limitations. In some states the rule about actually filing your suit papers within the statute of limitations may vary. That is some states allow for the statute to be tolled(stop from running) by the mere service of the suit papers on the other party without filing them at the courthouse.
In some instances a tricky question can arise as to when does the statute of limitations begin to run. In a fraud case the statute of limitations begins to run when the plaintiff knew or should have known of the fraud. In a medical malpractice action the statute of limitations in some instances may not begin to run until the doctor patient relationship ends assuming the relationship has been continuous for the same condition that is the subject of the claim.
Whatever statute of limitations exist it is purely arbitrary and is set by the state legislative body. Minors generally are governed by different rules as far as the statute of limitations. Likewise people that are deemed to be either permanently or temporarily incompetent are governed by a different statute of limitations.
There is also what is known as a statutes of repose which may set a specific time for bringing claims that is totally dependent on the occurrence of a specific act that has nothing to do with when the plaintiff was injured. For instance in regards to new construction there may be a statute of repose. Any claims that arise after the designated number of years after the completion of that construction are time barred. It makes no difference who the injured party is or the severity of the injury.