If you have suffered a personal injury in California and plan to file a lawsuit, it is important that you understand there are deadlines within which you need to file. If you wait too long to file your injury lawsuit, you may no longer have the right to seek compensation for your losses. Therefore, it is crucial that everyone understands what the statute of limitations is for personal injury claims in California.
For anyone who has been injured or is assisting a loved one who has been injured, navigating the legal system can be a formidable challenge, not to mention added stress. At Vaziri Law Group Personal Injury Attorneys, we are here to help ensure that your personal injury lawsuit is filed on time.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of the accident or injury. Some exceptions could change this timeframe. However, in general (and for most cases), there is a two-year deadline to file. While that might seem like plenty of time, it is critical that you contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to get the process started to ensure that your rights are protected. It helps to contact your attorney early on in the process so they can file your injury lawsuit in a timely manner.
Why does the statute of limitations exist? This law is in existence so plaintiffs are encouraged to pursue their claims promptly. The longer you take to file a claim, evidence might get lost or memories might fade. In any personal injury case, strong evidence is needed to substantiate a claim.
Can I Sue After the Statute of Limitations Has Passed?
You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit even if the statute of limitations has passed, but you may not necessarily succeed with your claim. This is because defendants in your case will typically use the argument that the statute of limitations has expired to get your case dismissed.
The statute of limitations also applies to injury settlements. California law prohibits individuals from seeking damages after the two-year deadline has passed. You also lose your leverage if you let the statute of limitations expire because the defendant won't feel any type of pressure to settle with you.
Exceptions to the Statute of LimitationsCalifornia law recognizes that there are circumstances that could prevent plaintiffs from filing their legal claim within a specific time. One of the most common circumstances where the statute of limitations may be extended is what is known as “delayed discovery.” This refers to situations where victims may not realize they were injured or that someone else's negligence caused their injuries. In these cases, the clock will begin to tick when you discover your injury or become aware of the other party's negligence. Also, in California, a minor (under 18) could file a personal injury lawsuit after they turn 18, even if it's two years after the date of injury. The statute may also be extended when the defendant leaves the state or cannot be located. The statute of limitations in such cases is stalled while the defendant is outside California or not available. Your Los Angeles injury lawyer can help evaluate your case and determine if any of these extensions apply to your case.
Filing a Lawsuit Against a Government Entity
Personal injury lawsuits against governmental agencies in California have different time limits. Common examples of situations where you would file such as claim include when you are injured by a government employee or when you suffer injuries in an accident caused by a dangerous or defective roadway.
In such cases, you must file an administrative claim first within 180 days or six months of your injury. Once you file, the agency has 45 days to respond. If they don't respond, you can file your injury lawsuit within two years of your date of injury. You can file even if the agency denies your claim, but you must do so within six months of their denial.
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