Navigating the aftermath of a personal injury can be a complex process. Knowing the legal timeframe in which you can bring a lawsuit is critical for protecting your rights. In California, the statute of limitations sets the deadline for when an injured party can file a lawsuit against those at fault for their injuries. Understanding these time restrictions is essential for anyone considering legal action for personal injuries sustained in California.
Understanding Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a law which dictates the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. When it comes to personal injury claims in California, this principle limits the time in which you can pursue compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs.
California’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
In the state of California, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. This means that if you do not file your lawsuit within two years from the date of the accident that caused your injury, you will most likely be barred from seeking compensation through the courts.
Exceptions to the Rule
According to the Sacramento personal injury attorneys at Rosenthal Law, there are various exceptions to the two-year rule that may extend or shorten this period:
- Minor Plaintiffs: If the injured party is a minor, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until they turn 18. Therefore, the minor will have until their 20th birthday to file a lawsuit.
- Discovery Rule: The discovery rule can delay the starting point of the statute if the injury was not discovered right away. In such cases, the statute begins to run from the date when the injury was, or could have been, discovered.
- Government Entities: If you are filing a claim against a government entity, there is a separate set of rules regarding the statute of limitations. Claims against government entities require you to file an administrative claim within six months of the incident.
- Criminal Acts: Claims for injuries due to a criminal act, such as assault, may have a different statute of limitations, especially if the act is being prosecuted.
- Specific Types of Injuries: Certain types of injuries or accidents may have specific statutes of limitations, such as defamation, medical malpractice, or exposure to hazardous materials.
Steps to Take After an Injury
If you have been injured, here are some steps to consider:
- Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the top priority, and having a medical record of your injuries can be important to your case.
- Gather Evidence: Collect names and contact information of witnesses, take photos of the accident scene and injuries, and keep a record of all related expenses.
- Contact a Personal Injury Attorney: An experienced attorney can provide guidance specific to your case and ensure your claim is filed within the appropriate time frame.
For anyone who has suffered a personal injury in California, time is of the essence. Understanding and adhering to the statute of limitations is crucial for maintaining the right to seek justice and compensation for your injuries. The two-year limit can pass quickly as you focus on recovery, so it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney early to protect your rights. Remember, exceptions to the rule can apply, and only a qualified legal professional can accurately advise you on how the statute of limitations might affect your case.