The personal injury statute of limitations California can vary from case to case depending upon the type of injury and how it happened. If you recently suffered a personal injury in California, it is extremely important to understand how the statute of limitations can affect your claim and, in some cases, bar you from seeking recovery if you fail to file your lawsuit on time.
In the meantime, if you have questions about filing a personal injury lawsuit, you should contact a California personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
What is the Statute of Limitations in California?
After getting hurt in an accident in California, you might have heard that you need to be careful of the statute of limitations. What is the statute of limitation in California, and how does it apply to personal injury cases?
In short, the statute of limitations is a time window in which a plaintiff is allowed to file a lawsuit. For many personal injury claims, the statute of limitations begins “running” when a person suffers an injury, but there are some situations in which the limitations period can be paused, or “tolled” as the law describes it.
We will provide you with more information about the specific statute of limitations for many different types of personal injury cases in California.
General Personal Injury Claims Based on a Theory of Negligence
Under the California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two (2) years from the date of the injury.
In most cases, this statute of limitations applies to claims that arise under a theory of negligence. As the California Courts explains, this statute of limitations applies to cases in which “the defendant hurts you with or without intending to hurt you,” and it can apply to “personal injury accidents, wrongful death, assault, battery, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, wrongful act, or negligent act.”
Once two years have passed, if a plaintiff has not filed a claim, then the statute bars her from filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
For some cases, the statute of limitations is much shorter (meaning that the plaintiff needs to file a claim even sooner), and sometimes the statute of limitations is tolled (giving the plaintiff additional time to file a personal injury lawsuit).
Personal Injury Claims Against a Government Employee, Entity, or Agency
The statute of limitations is much shorter than two years when the plaintiff wants to file a lawsuit against a government agency. Depending upon the specific facts of the case, the statute of limitations is often six (6) months from the date of injury, although sometimes it can be one year from the date of the incident.
This is the timetable that the plaintiff must abide by to file a claim with the government agency. If the claim gets denied, the plaintiff can then file a lawsuit.
Often plaintiffs do not realize that their claim is against a government agency, and thus they miss the filing deadline and are barred from seeking compensation. This is one of the reasons that it is extremely important to begin working with a personal injury attorney as soon as you get hurt.
Medical Malpractice Claims in California
California medical malpractice cases, or medical negligence claims, also have a different statute of limitations. Under California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim is three (3) years from the date of the injury, or one (1) year from the date the plaintiff “discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered the injury, whichever occurs first.”
In other words, if the plaintiff knows about an injury or should have known about an injury caused by medical negligence, then the statute of limitations may be only one year. Otherwise, the statute of limitations cannot be more than three years. There are rare exceptions to this rule.
Other Ways to Toll a Statute of Limitations
There are some situations in which the statute of limitations may be paused or tolled. While tolling the statute of limitations is not possible in most cases, some of the following factors may allow a plaintiff to obtain additional time to file a personal injury lawsuit in a California court:
- Plaintiff is under the age of 18;
- Plaintiff is outside the state of California or outside the country;
- Plaintiff is in prison; or
- Plaintiff currently lacks mental capacity.
It can be extremely complicated to toll a statute of limitations, and it requires assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney. You should never assume that you can pause the statute of limitations in order to file a claim outside the statutory time window. More often than not, plaintiffs are barred from recovery when they do not file a lawsuit within the limitations period.
However, if the statute of limitations has already run out on your case, you should still speak to a California personal injury lawyer to determine whether there is a way to seek compensation.
File Your Claim On Time With Help From a California Personal Injury Attorney
Determining the statute of limitations personal injury California can be complicated for many accident victims, and misjudging the statute of limitations can result in the plaintiff being barred from obtaining compensation through a civil claim. As such, it is extremely important to discuss your case with a California personal injury lawyer soon after the accident.
Your personal injury attorney can examine the specific facts of your case and can ensure that your lawsuit is filed before the California personal injury statute of limitations time period runs out. Contact The Beliz Law Firm to begin working with a dedicated advocate on your case.