In the state of California, with very few exceptions, you have two years from the date an injury was sustained to file a civil lawsuit. It’s a good idea to contact an expert in personal Injury law today so your claim doesn’t miss the deadline.
What is the Statutes of Limitations?
California sets a time limit on a person’s legal right to file a personal injury claim. This is done mainly for two important reasons:
- To give the court a factual presentation of the evidence – Witness memories tend to fade with time. Physical evidence can be lost. The faster a case goes to trial, the more likely the courts will see an accurate presentation.
- To prevent a victim, known as a plaintiff, from using a lawsuit threat against a defendant indefinitely – The plaintiff needs to file a lawsuit or let the matter go.
What Happens If You Don’t File Suit Within the Specified Time?
If you fail to file a civil lawsuit within the two years allowed by the California statutes of limitation, you have lost the right to seek damages for the injury in a court.
Plus, if you try to file a claim with an insurance company after the time limit has passed, you will receive no compensation. At that point, you have no leverage against the insurance company because you have no right to sue them if they aren’t required by law to settle.
What Are The Exceptions to the Statutes of Limitations?
There are certain circumstances where a plaintiff can pursue a legal lawsuit after the two-year statute of limitations closes. Here are a few of the most common scenarios where these exceptions apply:
- The plaintiff had no reasonable suspicion that the injury had occurred. The delayed discovery rule gives a plaintiff one year from the date the injury was discovered to file a lawsuit.
- The defendant files bankruptcy before a plaintiff can file suit. The plaintiff’s claim cannot be dismissed by the bankruptcy court. However, the plaintiff may not be able to file suit until the bankruptcy is complete. The law allows the plaintiff to file in a timely manner after the bankruptcy is dismissed or settled.
- The plaintiff was a minor at the time of the event. The statute of limitations would begin on the plaintiff’s 18th birthday and runs for two years.
- The defendant is not available or able to defend themselves. The statute of limitations pauses in certain circumstances involving the defendant. That person may be in prison, declared insane, under the age of 18, or may have moved out of state. The statute would start again when the person is released from prison, declared competent, reaches 18 years of age, or returns to the state.
Exceptions to the statute of limitations are very rarely granted by the courts. That’s why it is imperative you speak with a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Robert E. Cartwright Jr. is an attorney of The Cartwright Law Firm, Inc. and has over 30 years representing injured victims in many cities across California, such as San Francisco. Call him today, he’s ready to help you and your family get the best possible outcome for all of you.
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