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How Long Do I Have To File a Lawsuit?

The following is general information for residents of Oklahoma and is not intended as legal advice.

Each state sets its own statutes of limitations for various types of lawsuits. These will vary dramatically from state to state. Federal law, in some instances, sets its own statutes of limitations for certain causes of action that are controlled by federal law. In the majority of cases, determining the correct statute of limitation is relatively simple, but for some types of claims and situations the issue can become very complex. For specific statute of limitations questions you probably need to contact an attorney.

The following are the statute of limitations that apply to people who are legally adults at the time the claim arose under Oklahoma law:

1. Automobile accidents causing property damage or bodily injury have a two (2) year statute of limitations from the date of the accident, during which suit must be filed. 12 O.S. ‘ 95

The two (2) year statute of limitations does not apply if the accident was with any government employee who was on the job or operating a government vehicle. Special rules apply which can make the statute of limitations dramatically shorter. Any time you have an accident that involves any kind of governmental entity, regardless if it is city, state, county or federal, you probably need an attorney. You should contact him or her immediately after the accident, because there are special notice requirements and shorter statutes of limitation.

2. A slip and fall accident causing bodily injury where the claim is against someone other than a governmental entity has a two (2) year statute of limitations during which suit must be filed from the time of the accident. 12 O.S. ‘ 95.

3. A lawsuit for defamation, assault, battery, malicious prosecution or false imprisonment must be filed within one (1) year of the event giving rise to the claim. 12 O.S. ‘ 95.

4. Suit upon an implied or oral contract or agreement must be filed within three (3) years of the breach of the agreement. 12 O.S. ‘ 95.

5. A suit based solely upon the breach of a written contract must be filed within five (5) years of the breach. 12 O.S. ‘ 95. However, shorter limitations periods (sometimes as short as one (1) year) may apply for suits relating to property insurance contracts. Also claims relating to contracts, but not based on the written language of the contract, may only have a two (2) year statute of limitations. Examples of this would be bad faith breach of an insurance contract or negligent breach of a contractual duty causing something other than contract damages. In those instances a two (2) year statute of limitations would apply.

6. Minors who have a bodily injury claim arising from an accident generally have one (1) year to file suit after they reach the age of their majority, age 18, or two (2) years from the date of the accident, whichever is the longest period of time. This rule does not apply to claims against governmental entities.

7. Several other types of claims have special rules that are involved that are simply too complex to explain, short of writing a chapter or two of a book.

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Taylor, Ryan, Schmidt, Van Dalsem & Williams, P.C.
850 Boulder Towers, 1437 South Boulder Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74119
Phone: 918-948-6958
Toll Free: 866-761-7693
Fax: 918-749-9531