Statutes of limitations are laws set forth by the federal and state governments that set deadlines within which legal actions must be brought and how long rights can be enforced. So why is this important to you?
The moment you become an accident victim and suffer serious personal injuries in California, the clock starts ticking. If you experience subsequent economic losses, pain and suffering, and lost wages, you may consider filing a lawsuit for monetary relief. Many accident victims ask questions like: My accident happened eight months ago. Can I still sue for my injuries? Most likely, yes, as long as a lawsuit is filed no later than the time limit imposed.
However, once the deadline for the appropriate statute of limitations has passed, no legal action can be pursued, and your right to seek compensation is restricted. There are no shortcuts when it comes to the statute of limitations. Therefore, it is critical you empower yourself with knowledge and make strategic moves on your claim fast.
Why Do Statutes of Limitations Exist?
Statutes of limitations may appear unfair and arbitrary. After all, shouldn’t injured accident victims have the right to hold negligent parties accountable for the devastation they have caused? In fact, statutes of limitations exist for specific purposes.
Statutes of Limitations Ease the Burden on Courts
Each year, hundreds of thousands of personal injury claims are filed. All of these bring their own separate, individual complaints each court must review. Without a statute of limitations, the courts could be inundated with old claims with scant or stale evidence, i.e., the evidence needed to prove these claims may no longer be available by the time the court reviews the case. This makes it more difficult for those with pending cases to get the justice they deserve. As such, victims are encouraged to bring their complaints to the court promptly, which helps keep the courts run smoothly.
Statues of Limitations Help Strengthen Personal Injury Cases
Having a statute of limitations helps plaintiffs present stronger claims. Again, evidence often weakens over time. Physical evidence isn’t the only type of evidence that deteriorates with the passage of time; so too does an individual’s memory of facts related to the case. Most jurors place a heavy weight on the account of police officers, eyewitnesses, medical doctors, accident scene reconstructionists, and other experts when determining fault. The more time passes, the slimmer the chances are your evidence will be as strong as it initially was.
Furthermore, it gives defendants a fair shot at defending their case. Just like you, defendants have the right to a just trial. Just as it can harm plaintiffs’ claims, delaying case filings can deprive defendants of the opportunity to present vital evidence in their defense.
Deadlines for Personal Injury Claims in California
The general time limit imposed by the State of California for presenting personal injury claims is two years. This is applicable when someone else’s negligent misconduct or dereliction of duty results in the assault, battery, injury, or death of another individual. However, the allotted time frame varies depending on the nature of your claim and the severity of your injury. In California, the personal injury statute of limitations is spelled out in the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) sections 312 through 365, which applies the following deadlines for numerous civil actions, including but not limited to:
- Property damage or trespass (3 years)
- Wrongful death (2 years)
- Medical malpractice (1 year)
- Wrongful birth (6 years)
- Defamation (1 year)
- Breach of a written contract (4 years)
- Breach of an oral contract (2 years)
- Legal malpractice (1 year)
- Claims arising against a government entity (6 months)
Personal injury cases with corresponding criminal matters involving severe criminal offenses could extend the statute of limitations. If you believe you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim, we urge you to find out how statutes of limitations impact you and your case by consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer in California.
Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
In some cases, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations. However, these special cases are narrow, so it is wise not to assume an exception applies without your lawyer’s advice. Here are some exceptions to California’s statute of limitations:
- The injury victim is under 18 years of age.
- The injury victim lacks the legal capacity to make decisions.
- The injury victim could not have reasonably discovered their harm after the accident.
You can think of exceptions as an extension in which the period you can sue either starts later or is paused for some period of time. No exception grants unlimited time, however. They merely grant additional time to file your claim with the court.
Protect Your Right to Compensation with Younglove Law Group
As demonstrated above, the statute of limitations relating to personal injury can be highly complex. If you are unsure about how it might affect your claim, speak to a California personal injury lawyer. At Younglove Law Group, we have the resources necessary to help you protect your right to compensation for another’s negligence. Our attorneys are committed to preparing an effective case within the allotted time frame.
We have successfully advocated for the rights of thousands of wrongfully injured claimants in California. Our California injury lawyers can help you through the process. Contact us today by calling (844) 810-1800 or by completing an online contact form.