California Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations are laws that set maximum time limits for filing claims. Every state has statutes of limitations in place to encourage timely claims filing. It is very important to understand the statute of limitations on your particular personal injury case in California. Missing your deadline to file will most likely result in losing the opportunity to seek financial compensation.
What Are the Statutes of Limitations?
Statutes of limitations are deadlines the law imposes on different claims. Both criminal and civil lawsuits must contend with statutes of limitations. The goal of this type of law is to push claimants into filing their lawsuits as quickly as possible. Without statutes of limitations, a claimant could theoretically wait until the destruction of important evidence the defendant could have used as a defense to bring a lawsuit. To keep the claims process just for both parties, all states impose strict statutes of limitations on claims.
What Are the Statutes of Limitations in California?
California has different deadlines for different types of claims. Once you realize you have grounds to file a lawsuit against someone else, the next step is identifying the type of claim you will file and looking for the statute of limitations. You must then act within your deadline if you wish the courts to hear your case.
- Personal injury: two years
- Property damage: three years
- Libel/slander: three years
- Fraud: three years
- Medical malpractice: three years
- False imprisonment: one year
You have two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury claim in California. If you do not discover your injury the day of the accident, you have one year from the date you discover or reasonably should have discovered the injury to file. If you lost a loved one, you have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim with a wrongful death lawyer in California. Note, however, that exceptions exist.
Claims Against the Government
A claim against the government is an exception to the general California statute of limitations. If you need to seek restitution from the state or city government in California, you only have six months from the date of your accident to file an administrative claim. You must file this claim before you file in court. The six-month deadline applies except in cases involving real property damage or breaches of contract. If the agency denies your claim, you have an additional six months to file your lawsuit in court from the date you receive the denial. If the agency does not respond, you have two years from the date your injury occurred.
Exceptions to the Rule
The California courts will toll, or extend, a statute of limitations in some circumstances. If the defendant is a minor (under the age of 18), for example, the courts may toll the deadline until the defendant turns of age. The courts may also extend the deadline if the defendant is out of state, in prison, or mentally incapacitated. The statute of limitations will begin to run again on the date the defendant turns 18, returns to the state, leaves prison, or is mentally lucid. The courts may also toll the statute of limitations during criminal cases involving the defendant.
Statutes of limitations for personal injury claims can be complex. A special exemption may apply to your case depending on the circumstances. It is important to talk to a lawyer about your specific deadline for filing after suffering any type of injury in California. If you miss your deadline, the courts may refuse to hear your case. Even if they accept your case, the defendant will likely use the fact that you missed the statute of limitations against you. Contact a personal injury attorney right away after a personal injury accident in California for a timely and efficient filing process.