How Long Do I Have to Sue in a California Personal Injury Case?

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How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit in California After Being Injured in an Accident?

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit in California After Being Injured in an Accident?

Jun 23, 2022

Accidents happen every day. Whether it’s a car crash, a dog bite, a slip/trip and fall, or another type of personal injury incident, the victim often faces a number of obstacles during his or her road to recovery.

How Long Do I Have to Sue in a California Personal Injury Case?

Personal injury law can encompass a number of different subcategories, such as:

In fact, even defamation cases like the one everyone seems to be unable to stop talking about – e.g. the recent Amber Heard and Johnny Depp trial – fall under the umbrella of personal injury law.

When you’re injured by someone’s negligence or carelessness – whether that entails an individual, a private company, or a public or government entity – you may wish to file a civil lawsuit to recover financial damages for things like hospital and medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, lost wages, and more.

However, it’s important for injured victims to note that in California, you have a limited window of time to file a legal claim for financial compensation.

In the sections below, we will look at how long you have to sue an individual or entity after being injured as a result of negligence. We’ll also discuss what types of damages may be recovered in your personal injury lawsuit, and provide information on how to arrange for a free and no obligation consultation with one of Dordulian Law Group’s experienced lawyers.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations represents a deadline by which a lawsuit must be officially filed. After a statute of limitations has lapsed, the plaintiff typically is no longer able to file a lawsuit seeking financial compensation – whether compensatory damages, punitive damages, or another form of relief for an incident.

How Long do I Have to Sue/Bring a Personal Injury Claim in California?

In the vast majority of personal injury cases, the victim (plaintiff) has two years to file a claim seeking financial compensation. California applies what’s known as a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims, meaning that you have two years from the date on which the incident occurred to officially file a claim.

However, it’s important to realize that filing your claim as soon as possible is strongly recommended. In fact, although you technically have two years to file a personal injury civil lawsuit in most cases, waiting rather than doing so immediately can significantly hinder your case.

Under California law, at-fault parties and their attorneys (in applicable cases) must be given sufficient time to respond to and investigate a complaint. In other words, although you technically have two years from the date of a car accident to file a claim against the driver who injured you, if you do so 23 months (or even 18 months) after the incident, it’s possible (even likely) that your complaint would be thrown out by the courts because the defendant had insufficient time to respond.

However, it’s also important to consider that the “statutory window” for injured victims can vary on a case-by-case basis. The proverbial clock determining the claim filing deadline actually begins ticking when the plaintiff either knows or should have known through personal diligence of the injury.

So, if you were involved in a car accident and your injuries didn’t manifest until several weeks later, the statute of limitations might technically begin on the date that you discovered those injuries.

In other words, if you’ve been injured in any type of incident – whether a car, truck, motorcycle, slip and fall, or dog bite – it’s in your best interest to file your claim immediately. Doing so not only increases the chance of your case reaching a successful conclusion, but it may also lead to a significantly higher cash settlement or verdict.

Failing to bring a claim within the two-year statute of limitations can bar you as the injured victim from pursuing any future legal recourse or recovering due financial compensation.

Exceptions to California’s Two-Year Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims

If you’re injured in a car accident by a private driver, you most likely have a two-year window to file a claim. However, if you’re injured in a car accident by a driver who is working for a government or public entity, the statute of limitations for filing a claim is typically much shorter, sometimes only six months.

Accordingly, Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) experienced, proven, and trusted car accident and personal injury lawyers strongly encourage all injured victims to reach out for a free consultation with one of our team members. We’re available 24-hours a day, seven days a week via 818-322-4056 or online.

Typical California Statutes of Limitations for Various Types of Injuries

The below timelines are general, and can vary on a case-by-case basis and depending on the circumstances of a specific incident.

  • Wrongful death: Two years
  • Child sex abuse/assault: Currently the statute of limitations is paused through December 31, 2022, meaning any survivor may file a claim under the AB 218 three-year lookback window. However, when that lookback window closes, as of January 1, 2023, the survivor has until his or her 40th birthday to file a claim (or five years after discovering an emotional injury resulting from the childhood abuse – whichever is later).
  • Adult sex abuse/assault: 10 years from the date of the crime or three years from discovering a psychological injury due to the abuse
  • Wrongful birth: Six years
  • Defamation: One year
  • False imprisonment: two years
  • Medical malpractice: one year (from discovery)
  • Legal malpractice: one year (from discovery)
  • Veterinary malpractice: one year
  • Asbestos exposure, prescription drug injuries, or other product liability claims: one year (from discovery)
  • Breach of oral contract: two years
  • Breach of written contract: four years
  • Victim of serious felony: 10 years (from the date of conviction)

Is the California Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Extended for Minors?

In California, if you are a minor (i.e. someone under the age of 18), the law stipulates that you do not have the capacity to make legal decisions for yourself. Accordingly, if an individual under the age of 18 is injured in California, the two-year statute of limitations is typically paused (what’s known as tolled in legalese) until that victim becomes an adult.

There are some exceptions to this rule pertaining to the statute of limitations in cases where minors are injured. Some of those include:

For medical malpractice, claims on behalf of minors must be filed within the following applicable time periods (whichever is later):

  • Three years from the date of the alleged wrongful act
  • If the minor is under six years old at the time of the injury, before his or her eighth birthday

For injuries sustained either before or during birth, legal action on that individual’s behalf must be brought within six years after the date of birth.

Statute of Limitations for Small Claims in California Courts

According to a 2017 California Court Statistics Report, an estimated 163,575 small claims were filed. Here are some facts related to small claims court:

  • Attorneys may not represent plaintiffs in small claims matters.
  • $10,000 is the maximum amount that can be pursued in California small claims court.
  • Sole-proprietorships are considered individuals, but other types of corporations are limited to a maximum claim of $5,000.
  • You may only file up to two small claims in excess of $2,500 per year (however, there is no limit on the number of small claims totaling less than $2,500 which you may file annually).

Most car, truck, motorcycle, Uber/Lyft, dog bite, premises liability, and product liability claims are not taken to small claims court due to the severity of the injuries suffered by the plaintiffs.

When you’re injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve access to the very best legal representation available. With DLG’s personal injury and car accident lawyers, you can have peace of mind knowing that we will fight tirelessly to secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your claim.

Interested in recovering financial compensation for your personal injury claim? Contact a member of DLG’s Personal Injury Division today at 818-322-4056 for a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation.

With DLG, there’s never any out-of-pocket expenses or upfront costs. If we don’t successfully recover a maximum damages award for your car accident or other type of Los Angeles personal injury claim, you don’t pay a penny. Either we win or you don’t pay – it’s just that simple.

What Damages May be Recovered in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

What Damages May be Recovered in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

When you file a personal injury claim with the help of an experienced DLG lawyer, you’re pursuing financial compensation for various types of damages, such as:

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

  • Hospital expenses
  • Medical bills
  • Emotional trauma
  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages

How much your personal injury claim may be worth typically depends on the extent of your injuries and the level of negligence or carelessness involved. But rest assured, DLG’s Los Angeles personal injury lawyers will fight to recover every penny you deserve and secure a maximum financial damages award on your behalf.

Contact the Best Los Angeles, California, Personal Injury Lawyers Today

Contact DLG today at 818-322-4056 for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by ensuring that the insurance company or at-fault party does not take advantage of your rights after being injured in an accident.

Contact us today and take the first step towards ensuring you avoid financial hardship after an unfortunate accident injury that occurred through no fault of your own.

Reach out to DLG’s experienced team today. With more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts recovered for our clients while maintaining a 98% success record, you can be confident that your accident injury lawsuit is in the best possible hands.


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