What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in California?

Healing from a personal injury accident like a car wreck takes time. Your body needs to heal, and any mental trauma you sustain can require extensive counseling to resolve. 

When it comes to your legal rights, however, time is not on your side. Once you have been hurt by someone else’s negligence, you only have a limited amount of time to take action.

As in other states, California has a statute of limitations that applies to personal injury cases. The California personal injury statute of limitations exists to prevent injured parties from bringing forth cases relating to events that happened too far in the past. 

While there are exceptions to the statute of limitations, California personal injury victims can only invoke these exceptions in a limited set of circumstances. If you’ve been injured in California, it’s important to understand how the statute of limitations works.

The California Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

According to the statute of limitations, California personal injury victims have two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit in most circumstances.

For example, suppose that you were involved in a car wreck and suffered harm because another driver ran a red light. In California, you would have two years from the date of the crash to file your lawsuit.

The statute of limitations is satisfied when you file your lawsuit. Your case doesn’t need to be fully resolved before the expiration of the statute of limitations. In fact, some complicated cases may go on for years after the statute of limitations has expired. So long as you have filed your case, you will meet the statute of limitations.

After the Statute of Limitations Has Passed

If you wait too long and file your personal injury lawsuit after the California personal injury statute of limitations has passed, you will still be permitted to file your case in court, and the other party will get a copy of your lawsuit and an opportunity to reply. 

If that other party does not respond to your lawsuit, you could even get a judgment in your favor.

However, if the other party does choose to respond, they only need to note that the statute of limitations has passed. If they do this, the court must deny you any compensation and dismiss your lawsuit. 

Even if you have an otherwise compelling case of negligence, the court is not permitted to let your case proceed if you violated the statute of limitations and the other party has invoked that statute.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

There are very few exceptions to the statute of limitations. Simply forgetting the statute of limitations, even by a day, does not apply.

However, you and your personal injury attorney may be able to proceed with your case in spite of an expired statute of limitations if you were physically or mentally incapable of exercising your legal rights at the time the deadline passed. 

For example, if you suffered extensive injuries that kept you in the hospital for weeks, or if you were in a coma for a period of time, a court may allow you extra time to file your case.

Similarly, suppose that you took reasonable steps after a crash but had no reason to know you were injured. In this case, the court may find that the statute of limitations does not begin until a reasonable person would have known they were hurt.

Take Action as Soon as Possible After an Injury

It is essential not to overlook the statute of limitations in California. Two years can pass in the blink of an eye, and along with it, your opportunity to obtain compensation. And the available exceptions to the statute will generally only apply in unusual circumstances. 

If you’ve been hurt, it’s best to seek legal guidance from a knowledgeable California personal injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.

Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, LLP. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including cartruck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, LLP. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!