Personal Injury Law Blog

California Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Overview

If you’re pursuing a personal injury claim, it’s possible that you may need to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you need. However, for the court to hear your lawsuit, you must file your action within the statute of limitations. Here is everything you need to know about the statute of limitations for personal injury in California and how our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys can help meet the deadline.

What Are Statutes of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit for filing a legal claim. Each type of legal claim has its own statute of limitations, whether it be a personal injury case or a breach of contract. In addition, every state has different time limits written into their laws. If you get into a car accident in California, you must follow the state’s statute of limitations for either personal injury or wrongful death, depending on the situation. This is why it’s important to retain an experienced attorney who knows the intricacies of the car accident statute of limitations in California.

The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in California

Under California CCP § 335.1, plaintiffs have two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. At first, this may not seem like enough time to figure out the extent of your injuries. However, California also uses a discovery rule, which means that you have extra time to file if you discover your injuries later. There are also a few factors that delay or “toll” the statute of limitations for personal injury in California, including:

  • The defendant leaving the state—if the person who caused the injuries leaves California, the two year limit doesn’t start until they return.
  • The plaintiff being a minor—if the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations doesn’t apply until they reach the age of 18.
  • The plaintiff being in prison—in California, the statute of limitations for plaintiffs who are in prison starts at the end of their sentence or two years after the accident, whichever comes first.
  • The plaintiff being incapacitated—for plaintiffs who are mentally ill or in a coma, the statute of limitations doesn’t start until they are declared legally competent.
  • The plaintiff dies after the accident—if the person injured dies from their injuries some time after the accident, their surviving family members have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Even if your case has an exception, it’s important to speak with one of our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys about your claim. If your case isn’t filed before the statute of limitations for personal injury in California expires, the court may dismiss your case entirely. 

Special Rules for Personal Injury Claims Against the Government

One thing to note is that the standard California personal injury statute of limitations only applies to claims against private citizens or companies. If a government employee or agency causes your injury, you must follow a special filing process.

According to the California Government Code § 911.2, the claimant must file a claim with the appropriate government agency within six months of the incident. This claim must include the following information:

  • The name and permanent address of the claimant;
  • The address where the claimant wants to receive claim notices;
  • The date, time, and location of the incident that caused the injury;
  • Descriptions of the losses incurred by the claimant as a result of the incident; and
  • The name of the government employee responsible if known.

Once you deliver a notice of your claim to the government agency, they do an internal investigation of the claim. This process can be extremely complicated depending on the circumstances of the incident, so it’s essential to seek out the help of our personal injury attorneys.

When Should I Begin the Claims Process?

At first, two years may seem like plenty of time to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, there are many complications that you may run into depending on the situation. In many cases, the full extent of your injuries may not become apparent until a year or more after the incident. For this reason, it’s important to file a claim right away.

Personal injury claims also take time to process. It often takes several months to find a lawyer, investigate the incident, communicate with the insurance company, and negotiate a settlement. If your claim starts to approach the two-year limit, you may still have enough time to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. However, if you delay filing a claim immediately following your injury, you risk exceeding the statute of limitations.

Why You Shouldn’t Deal with the Insurance Company on Your Own

When you file a claim, it may be tempting to handle the negotiations without the help of an attorney. However, this is exactly what the insurance company wants you to do. Their goal is to get you to accept the lowest settlement possible, even if that means outright denying your claim. They use tactics to delay the filing process so that you become desperate for money to pay your medical bills. This means you could potentially accept a settlement lower than the full value of your claim.

The Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

At Glotzer & Leib, LLP, our attorneys have over 55 years of combined experience fighting for personal injury clients. We know the evidence needed to even the odds against the insurance company and manage every aspect of your case on your behalf, including:

  • Gathering evidence from the scene of incident,
  • Compiling witness statements,
  • Negotiating with the insurance company,
  • Calculating the full value of your damages, 
  • Filing accurate claim documents in a timely manner,
  • Pursuing the at-fault party in court if necessary, and
  • Hiring expert witnesses like doctors, accident reconstruction experts, etc.

Our goal is to get the other party to do what’s right for you and get you back on your feet, even if that means taking them to court.

Injured Due to the Negligence of Another? Schedule a Consultation Today

If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another person, the attorneys at Glotzer & Leib, LLP, want to help. To schedule a free case review with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers, contact us online or give us a call at 213-309-3050. We serve clients throughout the Greater Los Angeles area and surrounding Southern California communities.

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