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Personal Injury Statute of Limitations California

Published April 19, 2023 by Harker Injury Law

A life-altering injury can happen to anyone, often unexpectedly. It could impact your ability to work, reduce your joy, and leave you with daunting medical bills. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligent actions, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses

In the aftermath of a personal injury, it can be stressful to handle everything yourself. It is natural for you to feel overwhelmed and unsure of time limits or other laws that can affect your potential legal claim. That is where the team at Harker Injury Law is ready to come in and help. 

Every case is important and unique, and we want to offer personal injury victims the help and legal support they deserve. Contact our team today for a free consultation or call us at 760-INJURED.

How Statute of Limitations Laws Work

While the expression “statute of limitations” may seem daunting, in reality, it is a straightforward concept. It is a law (or statute) that sets a maximum amount of time after an event to file in court. 

Statute of limitations laws are in place because when too much time passes it becomes difficult or even impossible to build a strong case. 

Complications that arise when considerable time has passed include:

  • Physical may be lost or unavailable
  • Witnesses’ memories have faded
  • Witnesses are hard to locate
  • Video surveillance may be destroyed

There are statutes of limitations for both civil and criminal acts, as well as breaches of an oral contract or written contract. The length of time is different depending on the circumstances. These laws follow either federal or state law, depending on the nature of the incident. 

For example, for most federal felony charges, the statute of limitations is 5 years. Other offenses such as certain immigration offenses and bank fraud have an extended statute of limitations of 10 years. Some offenses, such as certain charges of child sexual abuse, do not have a statute of limitations at all. 

It is important to remember that for state-governed offenses, such as property damage and personal injury, the case is subject to the statute of limitations in the state where the incident occurred, not your state of residence. 

What is the California Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?

As a general rule, in California, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is 2 years. According to California law, personal injury cases are defined as when “the defendant hurts you with or without intending to hurt you.” 

Examples of personal injury lawsuits can include:

These personal injury claims include the “intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress” in addition to physical injuries. 

When handling a personal injury lawsuit or claim, time is of the essence. Once the statute of limitations expires, it may be impossible to recover compensation. While most personal injury cases fall under the 2-year deadline, there are some exceptions

Medical malpractice

Medical malpractice cases do not follow the same 2-year statute of limitations. The time limit to take legal action against a healthcare provider for negligence is 3 years after the date the injury occurred. However, in cases of delayed discovery, the time limit to file is 1 year after the injury was or should have been discovered.

There are a few exceptions to this 3-year time limit, such as:

  • Proof of fraud
  • Intentional concealment
  • The presence of a foreign body

In addition to the statute of limitation for medical malpractice lawsuits, a notice must be provided 90 days before filing a lawsuit against a healthcare provider.

Government agencies

At times, a government agency is responsible for personal injury or death. For example, in some car accident cases, factors such as insufficient road maintenance, unsafe road design, or lack of safety features could have contributed to the injuries. 

When a government agency is partially at fault for personal injuries, an administrative claim must be filed within 6 months of the injury. The government agency has 45 days to respond to this claim before a personal injury lawsuit can be filed in court.

If the government agency:

  • Denies the claim within 45 days: The time limit is 6 months to file in court
  • Does not respond within 45 days: The time limit is 2 years from the date of the incident to file in court

Workplace injuries

Most cases of workplace injuries fall under workers’ compensation laws instead of personal injury laws. Instead of recovering compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, a claim is made through an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. 

Workers’ compensation claims have their own process and time limits to follow:

  1. The injured employee reports the injury to the employer within 30 days
  2. The employee and employer fill out the appropriate sections of the Claim Form, and the employer submits it to a claims administrator within 1 working day of the form being completed
  3. The claims administrator will either approve or deny the claim within a “reasonable time”
  4. A denied claim can be appealed through either a “Petition for Reconsideration” or a “Petition for Removal.” Depending on the option, the time limit to file can be as little as 20 days

If you are unsure how much time you have to file a personal injury claim, contact a personal injury attorney at our law firm. We will be happy to help you understand how the statute of limitations applies in your case. 

There are also certain situations that may allow you to go beyond the compensation offered by workers’ comp. A free case evaluation can help determine the legal options available to you in your specific case. 

What the Statute of Limitations Means for Personal Injury Lawsuits

Clearly, statute of limitations laws can have a large effect on your potential personal injury lawsuit. However, there are two main pitfalls to avoid in order to ensure a successful claim:

  • Do not wait too long. Some injury victims make the mistake of thinking they will have plenty of time to file a claim or lawsuit after an injury. However, even if the statute of limitations is 2 years or longer, delaying before seeking legal help can hurt your potential case. 
  • Do not act alone. Each personal injury case is unique. There are a number of factors that can influence your ability to recover full compensation after an injury. It is important to seek reliable legal advice from an experienced California personal injury lawyer before communicating with the insurance company or filing any documentation.

Contact Harker Law About Your California Personal Injury Case

After suffering a personal injury, the most important thing is your health and your family. However, in most cases, recovering financial compensation for losses is an essential step in moving forward

When you work with a personal injury lawyer at our firm, you can focus on your healing while we focus on your claim. Our team is well-versed in California law and ready to fight for you to recover fair compensation.

When someone else’s negligence caused your injuries, Harker Law is here to help. Fill out our form on the bottom of the page or give us a call at 760-INJURED for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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