What Are The Statute of Limitations On A Personal Injury Claim in California

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Under California law, you have a set period of time to file a lawsuit in court and/or file certain claims with government agencies before a lawsuit is filed.  This is referred to as the statute of limitations. In civil law, the statute of limitations is intended to ensure that defendants aren’t required to defend against lawsuits after an unreasonable period of time. It would, after all, be unreasonable to require defendants and witnesses to accurately recall the specific details about an incident for perpetuity.  To prevent “stale” lawsuits from being brought before the courts, California has prescribed statutes of limitations. 

Different types of torts have different statutes of limitations. Although there are some criminal violations that have no statute of limitations, most civil cases have a time limit by which you must file. When it comes to civil law, the statute of limitations tends to be shorter.

What Is A Statute of Limitations?

In personal injury law, the statute of limitations is a time limit for a person to bring forth a personal injury claim against a negligent party. There are many different types of personal injury cases, including:

  • Car accidents
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • Bus accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Train accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Truck accidents
  • Defective products
  • Premises liability
  • Wrongful death

Each of the 50 states sets its own time limit for personal injury cases, and California has complex and technical rules (including various exceptions) to the statute of limitations. While some other states have a longer period to file, in most cases, California generally (but not always) has a two-year statute of limitations for people injured in car accidents and other types of incidents. That does not mean, however, that you should delay in seeking the advice of an attorney. Cases may take time to prepare, evidence can be lost even a short time after an accident occurs, and witnesses can be difficult to locate or may not remember the details of your accident. Every case is different, but time may be of the essence in personal injury cases.

What Are The Consequences of Waiting Too Long To File A Personal Injury Claim?

If you allow the statute of limitations to expire, there’s a likelihood that your case will not be heard by the courts. Although most cases will fall within the general 2 year statute of limitations, there are many exceptions and instances where you may have a much shorter period of time to take legal action or forever be barred from seeking compensation for your injuries.   A competent defense lawyer can usually get their client dismissed when it has been filed after the statute of limitations has expired. 

When Should I Seek Medical Help?

It is important that you get medical attention when you need it.  Always follow the advice of your medical professionals and seek second opinions when appropriate.  

Can I Ask The Court For An Extension of Time On The Statute of Limitations?

There are limited legal exceptions to the statutes of limitations in the state of California. In certain instances, your case may be tolled or extended by operation of law.   There are also times when the statute of limitations to file claims and lawsuits are much shorter than the general 2 year rule.  For example, claims against a defendant that is a government entity may need first be filed with the offending agency within 6 months.  Then, if a claim is denied, a lawsuit may need to be filed within 6 months from the government’s denial of the claim.  There may be other reasons that the general 2 year statute of limitations may be much shorter.  That is a reason why it is important to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible. Your attorney can give you guidance concerning protecting your rights..

Can I Afford To Pay An Attorney?

Some people may delay seeking the advice for their personal injury case because they believe that they do not have the means to pay for representation from an experienced attorney.  Thus, they might believe that they have no choice but to just represent themselves or go it alone. But a personal injury attorney, in fact, typically works on a contingency fee basis. What this means is that instead of being paid directly out of your pocket, they are paid a percentage of the award that they obtain for you. The personal injury attorneys at the Grossman Law Offices represent accident victims on a contingency basis. Our consultations are free, and you will not pay out of pocket for our services.  If there is no recovery, then there is no attorney fees.

Chosse Grossman Law Offices

An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to present the strongest personal injury case possible for your claim. At Grossman Law Offices, we can schedule a free case evaluation to see if you are still within the statute of limitations to file your claim.

We work on a contingency basis, so there are no upfront costs for our representation. Don’t allow the clock to expire. Contact the Grossman Law Offices today and speak with an attorney who knows the California legal system. Call today.