When you are injured in an injury accident, you have only a limited amount of time to bring a lawsuit for your damages. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. The personal injury statute of limitations in California is generally two years from the date of the injury. However, the two years do not always apply in every claim. Some situations may alter the personal injury statute of limitations.  

If you inadvertently miss the deadline, the court will most likely dismiss your entire case. That means even if you were in the middle of negotiations with the negligent party’s insurance company, they are under no obligation to continue settlement talks or offer you any compensation. Don’t risk your entire case by miscalculating the statute of limitations. Instead, retain an experienced California auto vehicle accident lawyer who can help.

Examples of Statutes of Limitations in California

As we mentioned, the general statute of limitations for personal injuries is two years from the date of injury, but that deadline doesn’t always apply. Cases involving minors and claims against government entities are two examples where the applicable deadlines may vary. The nature of the case can also impact the statute of limitations. Examples of standard California limitation periods include:

  • Property damage or trespass is three years;
  • Defamation of character is one year;
  • Medical malpractice is one year from discovery;
  • Fraud is three years from discovery;
  • False imprisonment is two years;
  • Asbestos exposure is one year from discovery; and
  • Wrongful birth is six years.

Wrongful death claims have a two-year statute of limitations, similar to that for personal injury. However, the two-year limitations period starts running on the date of death, not the date of the accident. Someone may live for three days or a year after the accident. Therefore, the statute of limitations is based on the date of death.

Date of Discovery

Specific claims, such as medical malpractice or fraud, use the date of discovery rather than the incident date. For example, imagine a surgeon leaves a piece of surgical equipment inside a patient, but the patient does not discover it until six months later. The statute would start running from the date of discovery rather than the date of surgery.

However, this doesn’t mean you have an unlimited amount of time to discover the negligence. There is usually a cut-off date. For example, you have three years from the date of injury with a medical malpractice claim. That means if you discover the problem within a year from the injury date, you will still have a year to file your claim. But if you find out about the mistake five years after surgery, you will not be able to bring a medical malpractice claim.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations in California

Sometimes the statute of limitations may be suspended or not start running until a later date. This is known as “tolling” the statute of limitations. Situations where the deadline may be suspended include when the defendant is:

  • Under 18 years of age;
  • In prison or jail;
  • Out of California; or
  • Declared legally insane.

Once the condition that caused the statute of limitations has changed, the clock will start running again. Cases involving a tolled statute can be challenging to resolve, which is why retaining a legal practitioner is crucial. 

Contact a California Auto Vehicle Accident Attorney

If you were injured in an auto vehicle accident or other types of injury accident, don’t risk your potential compensation by attempting to handle your claim independently. Let the professional team at Silva Injury Law, Inc. help. We have years of experience representing injured clients just like you. We will preserve the personal injury statute of limitations and fight to hold the responsible party accountable. To learn more about how we can protect your rights, contact Silva Injury Law, Inc. today to schedule a consultation.