How long do you have to file a lawsuit for personal injuries related to a car accident arising in Los Angeles?
- October 5, 2017
A combination of a high population and limited options for public transportation place a great many commuters on the highways and roads of the City of Angels. A drawback to increased amounts of traffic is an equal increase in potential accidents. Sadly, the local news in Los Angeles reported that fatalities related to traffic accidents in Los Angeles rose by more than 40%.
Injuries from traffic accidents are more common than fatalities. Anyone who has ever suffered harm in a car crash knows the costs following the accident can be enormous. After being hurt in an accident, the injured party must be diligent with filing a personal injury claim. A clock does exist. Once the statute of limitations expires on a car accident personal injury claim, the plaintiff loses the ability to recover damages.
The Time Limits on Initiating Litigation
The city and county of Los Angeles are both subject to California civil law. The statute of limitations for car accident-related personal injury suits in California is two years. With property damage claims, the statute of limitations is three years. These statutes of limitation claims refer to ones that do not involve a government agency. An exception to this standard rule exists.
When someone is involved in a car accident with the state, federal, or local government vehicle, the injured party has six months and file an official claim. If the government agency denies the claim, the injured party has six months from the date of the denial to initiate a personal injury lawsuit. So, a person injured by truck owned and operated by the city water department would subject to the six-month statute of limitations.
Take this example as a reason why it is important to speak with an attorney whenever an injury occurs due to negligence. The person may be under the impression all personal injury suits are subject to the two-year statute of limitations. Not knowing the law means nothing when it comes to any failure to file suit against the government within a six-month period. The court won’t toll the statute of limitations merely because the plaintiff was misinformed.
Exceptions do exist to the “normal” six-month statute of limitations associated with government suits. The exceptions are detailed under California Government Code section 905 and section 911.2. Rather than try to make sense of these laws, it would probably be best to speak with a lawyer.
The Tolling of the Statute of Limitations
The possibility does exist for the statute of limitations of car accident-related personal injury suits to be tolled. Tolled is another way of saying suspended. In short, within a limited window of rules, the two-year rule can be extended.
The most common reasons why the statute of limitations may be tolled would be the defendant is either out of state or a minor. When the defendant named in the suit leaves the jurisdiction of the state, the tolling begins. The statute of limitations clock runs again upon the return of the defendant to the state.
In the case of the defendant being a minor, the statute of limitations may be tolled under he or she turns 18. Tolling may come into play when the defendant serves time in prison or has been deemed mentally incapacitated. A release from prison or a positive mental health evaluation could lead to the statute of limitations clock running again.
Be aware that a judge may need to rule on any claims associated with a statute of limitation defenses. Any concerns over the statute of limitations issues should be directed towards a qualified personal injury attorney. Never make any affirmative or negative assessments about the statutes of limitations as related to your own case. Leave such things to an attorney who knows the law.
Act Quickly After an Accident
Likely, the best advice available to someone who has been injured in a car accident would be act quickly. At the earliest convenience, the injured party should set up a meeting with a personal injury lawyer specializing in car accident cases. An attorney doubtfully will waste any time that needlessly runs the clock on the statute of limitations. Failure to move quickly and discuss the case with qualified counsel not only creates the potential statute of limitations concerns but could hamper the ability to properly litigate the matter.