Understanding the Statute of Limitations in California

Statute of Limitations California 

Injury to Person | Personal injury statute of limitations

If you plan on filing a personal injury claim in California, you need to be aware of the statute of limitations. These are time limits for filing a lawsuit after someone suffers an injury. Personal injury cases, which are considered civil cases, are different from criminal cases and follow a different set of laws. 


Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims

California statute for civil statutes and personal property

In the state of California, injured victims have 2 years to file a legal claim against the negligent party. Some of the most common types of personal injury cases include: 

  • Car accidents: These are the most common types of personal injury claims in California. Injury victims can claim compensation for their bodily injury as well as injury to personal property, such as their vehicle.
  • Motorcycle accidents: California has more motorcycles than any other state. Given the large number of motorcyclists, vehicle accidents are common.
  • Truck accidents: These accidents, whether caused by driver negligence or a defective part, can result in serious injuries and death.
  • Wrongful death: A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of civil claim aimed at compensating surviving family members for their losses due to a loved one’s death. A criminal case may be filed simultaneously if the death was intentional or especially egregious.
  • Dog bites: Dog bite cases involve injuries caused by a dog bite or attack. Dog bites can cause serious injuries such as lacerations, punctures, infections, nerve damage, scarring,
  • Medical malpractice: If a healthcare professional causes an injury or death due to their negligence, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed.
  • Defective products: Also known as product liability, this type of claim seeks damages for an injury caused by a defective or dangerous product.
  • Pedestrian accidents: As the number of pedestrians in California continues to grow, so do the accidents. Speeding and drunk driving cause the most serious injuries and fatalities.
  • Bicycle accidents: Busy streets with designated bike paths result in bicyclists sharing the road with motor vehicles. Many times, accidents occur due to the driver’s negligence.
  • Slip and falls: Slip and fall accidents can happen on someone else’s property due to a hazardous condition, such as a wet floor or uneven pavement.

The statute of limitations in California typically gives two years from the date of the accident to file a claim, but some cases may extend or shorten this time limit. For a medical malpractice lawsuit, victims have 3 years from the day the injury or one year after the discovery of the injury – whichever comes first. 

If a plaintiff plans to sue a government agency, they must first file an administrative claim within 6 months. The government has 45 days to get back to you concerning your injury or personal property damage claim. If they do not respond, you can file your claim within the standard two years. If they deny your claim, you have 6 months to file a lawsuit in court. 

Exceptions to the Rule

To maintain fairness in the legal system, there are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations period. Under certain circumstances, the time limit is “tolled” or delayed for a period of time. Some exceptions are as follows: 

  • Discovery rule: If the injury was not immediately discovered, the plaintiff may be able to use the “delayed discovery rule.” The statute of limitations begins once the victim is aware of the injury or the other party’s negligence. 
  • Minors: When minors suffer injuries, the statute of limitations will be delayed until they turn 18. 
  • Disabilities: If the defendant is disabled, either physically or mentally, California law suspends the deadline to file until the defendant regains mental or physical capacity. 
  • Out of state: If the defendant leaves the state before the plaintiff files a claim, the clock will stop until that person returns. 


Why Are Statutes of Limitations Important?

California's civil statute of limitations laws

Statutes of limitations protect the rights and interests of both the plaintiff and the defendant, as well as ensure the fairness and efficiency of the legal system. Limitations laws also reduce the number of fraudulent claims that people could file otherwise.

Time also plays a huge factor in civil statutes. As time goes on, evidence is lost or witnesses forget what happened. Statutes of limitations ensure that lawsuits are based on clear and accurate evidence that can be verified.


Personal Injury Lawyer in Whittier, CA

California civil statute | Southern California law firm

If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit in California, you need to act fast. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help your case stay on track so you benefit from the full scope of your claim. 

Greenleaf Law Group is Whittier’s premier personal injury law firm serving injured victims of auto accidents. We are compassionate and experienced lawyers with one goal in mind: recover the maximum in compensation for those injured due to negligence. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

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