What Constitutes as Personal Injury?

Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Claim in Los Angeles 

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Claim?

If you plan on filing a personal injury lawsuit in California, do you know how much time state law gives you to take action? If you wait too long, your right to collect damages will expire. To file, it is important to know the statutes of limitations for personal injury law in the state of California.

Failure to comply with the statute of limitations can be fatal to your personal injury lawsuit, so it's crucial to understand this state law as it applies to your case.

The California personal injury statute of limitations sets a strictly-enforced time limit on your legal right to have your injury claim heard in the state's civil court system.

If you're thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit in Los Angeles, whether over a car accident, a slip and fall, or any other incident where someone else's negligence caused you harm, it's crucial to understand and comply with the statute of limitations for these kinds of cases. Read on for the details on the filing deadline set by this California law, why it's so important, and when the deadline might be extended.

Is There a Deadline for Personal Injury Lawsuits?

California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 gives you two years, starting from the date of the underlying accident or incident, to file a civil lawsuit seeking a legal remedy (compensation) for "injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another." That includes almost all conceivable types of personal injury lawsuits, since most are governed by the liability principle of "negligence" (a term that is interchangeable with "neglect" as it‘s used in section 335.1).

What If You Miss the Personal Injury Lawsuit Deadline?

If you try to file a personal injury lawsuit after more than two years have passed since the underlying accident or incident, it's a near-certainty that the defendant (the person you're suing) will point this fact out to the court, and the court will summarily dismiss your case. If that happens, you'll have lost your right to seek damages for your injuries, no matter how significant they might be, and no matter how clear the defendant's liability, unless you are entitled to an extension of the statute of limitations under a rare exception.

It's important to note that the California personal injury statute of limitations isn't just a factor if you've decided to take your injury case to court via a formal lawsuit. The filing deadline set by this law is also crucial to your position in personal injury settlement negotiations with the defendant and his or her insurance company. If the two-year deadline set by the statute of limitations has passed, then you'll have lost all your leverage.

Are There Exceptions to the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?

Here are some examples of circumstances that are likely to modify the standard two-year timeline for the filing of a personal injury lawsuit in California:

  • the injured person did not discover, and was not aware of any facts that would have caused a reasonable person to suspect that he or she had suffered harm caused by someone else's wrongful conduct.
  • the injured person was under the age of 18 or was "lacking the legal capacity to make decisions" (i.e. subject to a temporary or permanent mental illness) at the time of the underlying accident (California Code of Civil Procedure section 352), and
  • the person who allegedly caused the injury left the state of California at some point after the underlying accident, and before the lawsuit could be filed (California Code of Civil Procedure section 351).

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If someone else’s actions or failure to act responsibly harms you, one way you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries is by filing a personal injury claim against them. However, time is limited to take legal action. California gives accident victims a set amount of time to file a claim for compensation.

Since the statute of limitations is such an important procedural rule, it's critical to make sure that you understand and comply with the deadline in your state. Especially if you were injured some time ago, now is the time to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney who can make sure you keep all your options open.

If you have questions about how California's statute of limitations applies to your potential personal injury lawsuit, especially if the deadline has passed or is close to passing, it may be time to discuss your situation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney.

Los Angeles Personal Injury Law Firm

Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Oscar H Gutierrez have over 40 years of combined experience in handling personal injury cases, and can answer any questions you may have about the statute of limitations in your case.

Our responsibility is to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible throughout this entire process, and most importantly, earning what you are entitled to for enduring such pain.

We Help You Claim What’s Yours!

For a free initial consultation and dedicated representation, contact us by phone at (323) 999-3500 or by email at office@gutierrez.legal today.