An Introduction to Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Have you been injured due to the negligent acts of another person? If so, then you are entitled to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But, you have to act quickly if you want to recover the compensation that you deserve. There are laws that have been put in place to limit the amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit. These laws, which are known as statutes of limitations, vary from state to state. Here’s what you need to know about the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in the state of California:
The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases in California
You have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in the state of California. This law applies to almost every type of personal injury case, including car accidents, product liability cases, slip and falls, dog bites, and truck accidents. But, when does the clock on the two-year time limit start to tick? Most of the time, the two years will begin on the day that you sustained the injuries. For instance, if you slip and fall in a retail store and break your arm, you will have two years from the date of this accident to file a personal injury claim.
However, there is an exception to this rule. Some personal injury victims do not realize that they are injured for days, weeks, or months after the accident. When this happens, the court will most likely allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit within two years from the date that you first discovered the injury. This means if you were in a traffic accident and did not realize that you suffered a concussion until three days later, the two year time period would not begin until the day that you realized you were hurt.
If you are filing a personal injury case outside of the regular two-year limit, be prepared to provide evidence that you did not discover your injury right away. The court will need to see proof in the form of medical records that clearly shows why you did not discover the injury immediately following the accident. Without this proof, you may not be permitted to move forward with your lawsuit.
The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases Filed Against the Government
Most personal injury cases will name an individual or a business as the defendant. But, what if the party that has caused you harm is a government agency? For instance, if you are injured in a car accident caused by poorly maintained roads, the city or county government that is responsible for these roads could be held liable for your injuries. Filing a claim against a government agency is not the same as filing a claim against an individual or a business. There are certain rules that must be closely followed, and plaintiffs do not have as much time to initiate the lawsuit, either. If you plan on filing a claim against a government entity, you will only have six months to do so.
The Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Cases in California
A medical malpractice claim is a type of personal injury case filed against a negligent healthcare provider that has caused a patient harm. Although this is a type of personal injury case, the statute of limitations is not the same as it is for other personal injury cases. Medical malpractice victims must file their lawsuits within three years from the date on which the injury occurred or within one year after the they first discovered the injury, whichever comes first. This law was established because injuries caused by medical malpractice are usually not immediately observable. It could take months or even years for the victim to find out that he has an injury, and even longer to trace the injury back to a negligent healthcare provider.
The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases Involving Minors
The rules are slightly different if the plaintiff in the personal injury case is under the age of 18 at the time of the accident. If a minor is injured by a negligent healthcare provider, the minor (or someone acting on behalf of the minor) has three years from the date of the incident to file a medical malpractice case. However, this law only applies to minors that are under the age of 18, but over the age of six. If a minor that is under the age of six is injured by a negligent healthcare provider, the statute of limitations is either three years from the date of the incident or before the child’s 8th birthday, whichever is later.
What if a minor is injured in a car accident, animal attack, or slip and fall? Minors have two years from the date of their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit in the state of California. Of course, their parents or guardians may file a lawsuit for them before they turn 18. However, if no lawsuit has been filed by the time the minor turns 18, he has the opportunity to file one on his own before his 20th birthday. This rule applies to all types of personal injury cases involving minors except for medical malpractice cases.
Now that you know how long you have to file a personal injury claim in the state of California, are you ready to take the first step towards recovering the compensation that you deserve? If so, seek legal representation from an experienced personal injury attorney at our law firm. Contact Carpenter & Zuckerman today to schedule a free consultation with our team of knowledgeable lawyers.
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