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How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?

California limits the amount of time a person can file a complaint to start a lawsuit in a personal injury case. The deadline is called statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations ends, or runs out, the individual is barred from filing a lawsuit.

When the state “bars” someone from filing a lawsuit, they are prevented from seeking any compensation from the person or company that injured them. It doesn’t matter if the person, or potential, plaintiff has a valid claim against the wrongful party. The claim is no longer valid.

Specific Statute of Limitations in California depend on the Injury and Wrongful Party

In general, California limits a personal injury claim to two years from the date of the injury. This means time starts ticking from the date of the accident. For instance, a person was injured crossing Santa Monica Boulevard on January 2, 2016. The deadline to file starts on the day they were injured. Thus, they’d have until January 2, 2018 to file their personal injury claim against the driver.

In some situations, the injury may not be discovered right away. This usually happens in medical malpractice case. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to competently perform their duties and the patient is injured. A surgeon leaving a surgical tool inside a patient’s body during surgery is one of the well-known examples of medical malpractice.

California’s statute of limitations doesn’t start when the injury occurred. It begins the day injury was discovered. For instance, a patient was injured by a doctor on January 1, 2006. The injury wasn’t discovered until June 1, 2016. The statute of limitations began on June 1, 2016. They have until June 1, 2018 to file a personal injury claim.

Property Damage Claims have a Longer Statute of Limitations

Property damage occurs when an individual negligently destroys or damages property. The property damaged can range from a vehicle to a fence. A person wanting to file a claim to receive compensation for the property damage has three years from the date it was damaged.

For instance, on May 3, 2016, a neighbor broke another neighbor’s windows during an argument. The individual would have until May 3, 2016 to file a claim in a California court.

Personal Injury Claims against the Government has a Shorter Statute of Limitations

Claims against any government agency must be filed with that particular agency within six months of the date of the injury. The claim is called an administrative claim. In some personal injury cases, it may be one year from the date of the accident. The government agency has 45 days to respond. The claim may be denied.

If the claim is denied, a person does have another legal recourse. They can file their lawsuit in court. The statute of limitations for filing the lawsuit in civil court is six months from the day the person received the denial. If they didn’t receive a denial letter, they have two years to file a lawsuit.

Trolled Statute of Limitations

When statute of limitations is trolled it is suspended for a period of time before it restarts. Trolling typically happens when a defendant is:

  • A minor
  • Not a California resident
  • Insane
  • In prison

The statute of limitations will restart after the reason for the suspension ends. For instance, the statute of limitations will begin again after a defendant is released from prison.

Talk to a Lawyer about the Statute of Limitations and Filing a Lawsuit

Statute of limitations is one of the most complicated parts of personal injury law. To understand more about personal injury law, filing a claim in California or statute of limitations, contact a personal injury attorney. The attorney will explain California personal injury and advise whether you have a personal injury claim.

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