How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California?

a man files a personal injury lawsuit in Bakersfield | The Law Offices of Mickey Fine

Every state has time limits to file a personal injury lawsuit and other types of claims. You need to understand the statute of limitations for your personal injury case in California and get the ball rolling as soon as possible to ensure a successful outcome and maximum compensation. Failing to file your claim on time could mean forfeiting your right to recover damages for your injuries or the wrongful death of a loved one. 

The Law Offices of Mickey Fine understands California statutes intimately and will ensure your claim is pursued in a timely manner to avoid missing the state-mandated deadline. Our Bakersfield personal injury lawyer has helped many injured victims recover hundreds of thousands in settlements and successful verdicts.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in California

The State of California gives injured persons two years from the date of the injury to go to court and file a lawsuit against the responsible party. The court automatically refuses to hear any case that misses this two-year period, negating any hope for compensation. However, this time frame changes if the at-fault party is a city, county, or state agency in California. 

Any injury claim against a California government entity has just six months to file, and proper procedures must be followed. Some circumstances may extend this window to one year, and if the claim against the government agency is denied, you may still pursue a lawsuit in the California court system. 

Are there Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

Some circumstances may extend or pause the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. According to the Judicial Branch of California, if you didn’t discover the injury right away, the clock starts ticking from the date you first developed symptoms. If there are no injuries and it’s strictly property damage, the time limit is extended to three years from the day it occurred. 

Some situations may stop or “toll” the clock. If the injured victim is a minor, currently out of the state, locked in prison, or found legally insane, the statute of limitations is tolled until the circumstances change. When a minor turns 18 or the defendant returns to California, the two-year time frame begins to tick again. 

Medical malpractice claims are another exception, with the statutes for claims against a health care provider being one year from the date the injured person knew or should have known about the injury or three years from the date of the incident, whichever comes first. California Law also requires you to provide the healthcare provider with 90 days’ notice before you file a personal injury lawsuit. 

What Happens If I Don’t File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Time?

If you miss the time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit, your case will be dismissed. The court will not entertain excuses you didn’t know about the statute of limitations. The only way to pursue a personal injury lawsuit is to file the claim within the two-year time frame required by California Law unless you meet the abovementioned exceptions. 

What Types of Claims are Considered Personal Injury?

California civil code states that injured parties have two years from the date of “an action for assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, of individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” That includes these types of personal injury claims and other instances: 

If you’re unsure if your injury falls within this category, an attorney can help you understand your legal options for compensation. 

How Can an Attorney Help?

A California attorney knows these time constraints and will counsel you to begin the process immediately to avoid a court dismissal. It takes time to build a case, and the sooner you start, the better the outcome and the higher the settlement. 

Research shows that injured victims who have a personal injury attorney involved in their case receive higher settlements. That’s because an attorney knows all the areas of recoverable damages and can gather the necessary evidence to validate the claim. An attorney also prevents the plaintiff from accepting a lowball settlement that doesn’t cover the full extent of their pain and suffering. 

Call a Bakersfield Personal Injury Lawyer for Free

At the Law Offices of Mickey Fine, the consultation is always FREE. Our Bakersfield personal injury lawyer will discuss the details of your injury or accident and guide you through the claims process. 

Call our Bakersfield and Manhattan Beach, California offices at (661) 333-3333 to start your personal injury lawsuit today.