If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, you need to be aware of the statute of limitations for personal injury. The statute of limitations imposes a deadline within which you must make a claim for your losses or lose your right to bring legal action. In California, the statutory period is two years from the date of the injury event, but other factors could shorten or lengthen the time you are allowed. Those factors include the following:
- Discovery rule — Not every injury is apparent at the time. The discovery rule allows you one year from the date you knew or reasonably should have known that you had been injured.
- Defendant’s bankruptcy — When a person declares bankruptcy, the court issues an automatic stay that prevents any claimant from attempting to collect on amounts owed. If the defendant in your case files bankruptcy, your claim cannot be discharged, but you must wait until the proceedings are over. The law allows you extra time if the delay forces you to file after the statutory period has expired.
- Claims against the government — If a government entity is the defendant in your case, you must file a notice of claim with the proper office or agency, usually within six months of the injury event.
- Injury to a minor — The two-year period does not beginning ticking down until the injured child reaches 18 years of age.
- Defendant unavailable — If the defendant is a minor, in prison, insane, or cannot be reached because he is out of state, the statute of limitations is tolled. The statutory period stops counting down until the condition that made the defendant unavailable is reversed. This could be when the defendant turns 18, gets out of prison, regains mental capacity, or reenters the state.
The statute of limitations is an important protection for defendants, who should not have to go through life with a personal injury lawsuit hanging over their heads. It forces injured parties to take action promptly, but they should want to do that anyway, because timely action allows their attorney to begin collecting evidence before it is lost or destroyed.
If you’ve suffered a serious injury, time is not on your side, but the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker can be. Call 800-333-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at one of our locations in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange County, Bakersfield, Fresno, Phoenix, or Tucson.