What are Statutes of Limitations?
Statutes of limitations are laws that limit the amount of time a party may file legal claims against another party. In other words, statutes of limitations are deadlines for filing a lawsuit. The primary purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure disputes are resolved in a timely manner before evidence becomes stale and witnesses become difficult to locate, as well as to protect parties from facing liability many years after an incident.
Different types of cases have different statutes of limitations under California law. For example, if you are suing someone for a breach of a written contract, you typically have four years from the date the contract was breached; if you are suing someone for fraud, you generally have three years from the period you discovered the fraud; and if you are suing a professional for malpractice, you normally have one year from the time you discovered the malpractice.
What is the Statute of Limitation for a Personal Injury Case?
For personal injury claims, an injured party generally has two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit. There are a few exceptions though.
If the injured party is a minor, the statute of limitations does not begin to accrue until the minor turns 18 years old.
If the injured party does not discover an accident-related injury until weeks or months after the accident, a party may be able to argue that the two-year statute of limitations starts from the date of the discovery and not the date of the accident.
If the negligent party is a government entity, the injured party must file an administrative claim with the government entity within six months of the accident. If the claim is denied within 45 days, then the injured party has six months from the date of the denial to file a lawsuit.
Why is this Important?
If you suffered injuries from an accident and wait more than two years after the date of the accident to file a lawsuit (or six months if the other party is a government entity), a judge will most likely dismiss your case unless certain exceptions apply. Missing this deadline can be devastating and there may be no recourse whatsoever. Any valid claims you may have against other parties in an accident become worthless and you will be unable to recover compensation for the injuries you suffered by any negligent parties.
If you are injured in an accident, your primary focus should be receiving appropriate medical treatment to fully recover and minimize the impact of the accident on your physical, mental, and financial health. Moreover, if another party is liable for your injuries, it is important to preserve evidence and investigate your claims as soon as possible so that you can be fully compensated for your loss by settlement or commencement of legal action before the applicable statute of limitations expires.
If you have been injured in an accident and believe you have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, call Lee & Kim LLP at (213) 468-8840 for a free consultation.