According to California’s statute of limitations, claimants must file a lawsuit within two years to seek compensation for personal injury damages, per CCP § 335.1. There are exceptions to this rule, but in most cases, you likely will lose your right to sue the party responsible for your injuries if you wait longer than this period.
Evidence Is Time Sensitive in California Personal Injury Cases
The statute of limitations deadline is not the only reason you should file an injury case as soon as possible. Directly after an accident, various parties can collect evidence immediately, and the incident is fresh in witnesses’ minds.
As time passes, it may be harder to gather concrete evidence against the instigator, and witnesses may not recall events as clearly, making it harder to secure financial compensation. Even with legal help, it can be more advantageous to file your case as soon as reasonably possible.
California’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases
Wrongful death and survival action lawsuits can sometimes intersect with personal injury cases, which means parties can file them at the same time. The statute of limitations for both is also two years, but certain circumstances could give you more time.
Can I Still File After the Statute of Limitations Deadline Expires?
While it is technically possible to still file a lawsuit for your injuries, the defendant might be able to use “expiration” as a defense. Put simply, once the defendant presents that the case’s statute of limitations has expired to the court, your case will almost certainly be thrown out. If the two-year window passes, the defendant will have no obligation to pay you damages.
Are There Exceptions to the Statute?
Certain conditions will delay or “toll” a statute if met. Modifications to the statute serve as extensions in place to give the claimant a fair chance to file if they do not have the initial opportunity.
The first exception applies if the claimant did not discover their injury or have reason to believe another’s negligence harmed them. In these scenarios, they are given one year from the date they discover their injuries to file.
Underage or Mentally Impaired Claimant
In personal injury lawsuits involving minors, the statute is paused until the claimant turns 18 years old. If the claimant has a mental disability or was rendered unable to competently take legal action due to their injuries, the statute resumes only after they regain the cognitive function that allows them to file a lawsuit.
What If I Want to Sue the Government for My Injuries?
Cases against government entities operate a bit differently from those involving standard personal injuries. To pursue litigation against the government for your injuries, you must first file an administrative case within the first six months of your injury. Once you’ve submitted your case, they will have 45 days to respond. If the government entity denies your case, you will have another six months to file your injury lawsuit.
Can a Lawyer Help Me Figure Out How Much Time I Have to File a Personal Injury Case?
Each case is unique. Some parties are minors, while others are incapacitated after the accident and can only seek legal action when they have recovered. It can be tricky to figure out how much time you have to pursue compensation, but an injury lawyer will know what the statute of limitations is for your California personal injury case and the exceptions to toll the statute that could apply.
If you are apprehensive about taking legal action due to your situation but feel pressed for time by your financial situation, finding a lawyer is an option you may want to consider. Greenberg Gross’ years of experience could prove invaluable in your case. Call our office today to explore your legal options.