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When you file a personal injury claim in California, you must be mindful of applicable laws and rules, such as the deadline to file a lawsuit.

That date is the statute of limitations and will vary based on the type of case you have. If you fail to file a lawsuit before the deadline, the court will likely dismiss your case.

To verify the personal injury statute of limitations in California that applies to your case, speak with the Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Farzam Law Firm.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is the amount of time that can legally pass before filing a lawsuit or charges. Deadlines apply in both civil and criminal matters.

This deadline exists to keep people from filing lawsuits for injuries that happened many years before. Evidence can disappear or get lost over time, and witnesses’ memories may fade.

The statute of limitations helps ensure that parties have access to evidence and that they don’t have to defend against matters from long ago. 

California Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury

In general, the statute of limitations for California personal injury cases is two years from the date of the incident. However, there are certain types of personal injury claims that have different filing deadlines.

If you miss the filing deadline, you can no longer bring a legal claim for compensatory damages. There may be more than one cause of action in certain cases and, therefore, multiple statutes of limitations.

If you fail to meet the filing deadline for one, there’s a chance you can still file a claim under the other statute of limitations.

The general two years apply to assault and battery cases, car accident injuries, infliction of emotional distress cases, and wrongful death claims.

However, wrongful death claims count the limitations period two years from the date of death, not the date of injury.

Special Types of Cases with Different Statute of Limitations

It’s essential to understand what some of the exceptions are to the two-year statute of limitations.

A Minor Under 18

Someone under 18 years old cannot file a lawsuit, because they lack legal capacity. The law typically “tolls” the statute until the plaintiff turns 18.

However, some claims are not on hold until the plaintiff reaches 18 years old, such as medical malpractice.

With a medical malpractice claim and a minor, someone must commence the lawsuit on the minor’s behalf within the later of three years from the alleged medical malpractice or before the victim’s eighth birthday if they are under six years old.

If the malpractice occurred before or during birth, a lawsuit must be commenced within six years after they are born.

Malpractice Claims

If your case involves medical malpractice, you must file within one year of the date you discovered the malpractice or should have discovered it. However, you don’t have unlimited time to file because there is an “absolute outside date.”

For example, you cannot file a medical malpractice lawsuit more than three years from the date of injury, even if you discover it later. 

Cases involving veterinary malpractice have a one-year statute of limitations. And the date for these cases starts running from the actual date of injury.

Class-Action Type Medical Claims

Some medical-related claims have a longer statute of limitations. For example, mesothelioma and asbestos exposure claims have different deadlines.

You must bring a claim by the later of one year from the date you first suffered a disability or one year after the date you should’ve known that the exposure caused or contributed to your disability.

Other Examples

If the defendant is a government agency, you must file a claim within six months of the injury date. 

If you are filing a claim to recover personal property left at a hospital, hotel, or another similar type of temporary lodging, you have 90 days from when you departed the facility.

Child sex abuse victims have an extended statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit against their abuser in California. They can file up until their 40th birthday or within five years of discovering the abuse, whichever date is later.

If the defendant is out of California, the clock doesn’t start running until they return to the state. If they leave again, the clock is still active.

If the defendant faces criminal charges or is in prison, the clock starts running once they are released or two years after the injury, whichever date is first.

If you need to sue someone who is considered incapacitated, then the clock starts running when they become legally competent (if ever).

Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer

If you suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, you have the legal right to bring a claim for your damages.

However, if you miss the filing deadline, the court could bar you from pursuing the compensation you’re entitled to receive. Don’t risk your potential personal injury settlement by handling your claim independently.

Instead, speak with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer at Farzam Law Firm. We have experienced trial lawyers with a record of success.

We aren’t afraid to take your case to trial if that’s what it takes to hold the responsible party accountable. The sooner you contact us after your injury, the better.

We can help ensure you don’t miss the filing deadline. Contact our office today to learn more about how we can assist you with your California personal injury claim.

Author Photo

Joseph Farzam

Mr. Farzam attended Santa Monica high school and worked at McDonald’s and local coffee shops to support himself. Although he worked 2 or 3 jobs, he valued education greatly and earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge in biology, and attended the prestigious Pepperdine University School of Law. He graduated with high marks and passed the California bar exam on the first try. Mr. Farzam has received the coveted titles of Super Lawyer, Los Angeles Magazine’s Top Lawyers, and has received The Litigator Awards.  He is a proud member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) and California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA).

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