California Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Overview

When you are injured in California you are permitted to file a lawsuit seeking monetary compensation from the at-fault party. California personal injury laws allow injured parties to recover damages to cover the costs of:

  • Medical care,
  • Hospital bills,
  • Rehabilitation,
  • Surgery,
  • In-home health attendants,
  • Pain and suffering,
  • Lost wages, and
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

However, once you are injured the time in which you can file a claim for damages is limited. If you have been involved in an accident or sustained an injury as a result of the action of another you should contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney immediately. An experienced attorney will review your case and ensure that any claims for compensation are filed within the appropriate statute of limitations window.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim for Damages in California

If you have been injured and are interested in recovering damages from the at-fault party, time is of the essence. In California, the statute of limitations is the period in which a lawsuit may be filed. The clock for this timeframe generally starts to run when the injury was sustained or first notice. However, the particular statute of limitations for your injury will depend on relevant circumstances and the type of claim that is involved. Once the statute of limitations runs out you will generally be barred from filing a claim.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in California

The statute of limitations for your injury will depend on the type of claim you make. The following are some of the most common personal injury claims in California:

Injury to a person such as assault, battery, wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence. The statute of limitations requires claims to be brought within 2 years of the date of the incident, or 2 years of when an injury from the incident arose.

Injury to personal property such as theft, trespassing, fraud, nuisance, or damage to your car or motorcycle from an accident. The statute of limitations requires claims to be brought within three years of the date of the incident.

Medical malpractice claims must be brought within 1 year of the discovery of the malpractice or 3 years from the incident.

Legal malpractice claims must be brought within 1 year of the discovery of the malpractice or 4 years from the date of the incident.

Trespassing claims must be brought within 3 years of the date of the incident.

Apparent defects in real property include known and apparent defects in the improvement, design, survey, or construction of property that cause injury. The statute of limitations requires claims to be brought within 4 years from the date the construction was mostly finished.

Latent defects in real property include unknown and latent defects in the improvement, design, survey, or construction of property that cause injury. The statute of limitations requires claims to be brought within 10 years from the date the construction was mostly finished.

Special Limitations on Claims Against the Government

In California, if you are injured and want to recover compensation from the government you must file an administrative claim within 6 months of the date of the incident. Failing to do so may bar any recovery, regardless of the state’s respond to your claim. The government has 45 days to respond to your claim for personal injury damages. If the government rejects your claim you have 6 months from the date of the denial to file a claim in court. If the government fails to respond to your administrative claim you have 2 years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. Since the statute of limitations is extended if the government fails to reply to your administrative claim this rarely happens.

Extending the Statute of Limitations

In most cases, the statute of limitations will begin to run when the injury occurs and close when the clock runs out. There are, however, certain circumstances which may cause the statute of limitations to pause. A statute of limitations may be tolled if the defendant is:

  • a minor when the injury is inflicted;
  • out of the state or incarcerated; or
  • mentally incapacitated or insane.

For example, if you are injured in a car accident by a driver who is 16 years old, the statute of limitations in which you may bring your lawsuit will begin to run when the defendant turns 18. You will then have 2 years from that date to file a claim for damages. The statute of limitations stops running when the tolling circumstances begin. The statute of limitations then resumes when the tolling circumstances end.

If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of another’s conduct or negligence you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The statute of limitations will likely begin to run the second you are injured, so it is incredibly important to file a claim for damages as soon as possible after an injury occurs. An experienced California personal injury attorney can review your case, determine potential liability, and ensure lawsuits are filed within the required legal window.