The timeline for filing a lawsuit is governed by a statute of limitations, which sets forth a time limit for someone to file a lawsuit against a wrongdoer. These limitations are not necessarily the same for all types of legal claims. It depends on the nature of the case and the jurisdiction under which it falls.
Governed by the California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, personal injury claims in California (inclusive of product liability suits) are given two years (from the date when the accident/injuries were first sustained) to be brought before the court; or one year from the date of the injury being discovered, if the plaintiff was unaware of when the accident first happened. There is an exception for medical malpractice suits, which have a deadline of three years.
Claims against a city, county, or California state government agency have to be filed within six months (one year in some cases). one must generally first file an “administrative claim” in the government office/agency using the government’s form before it can be taken to court, and that happens only if the public agency formally denies the claim.
Can there be any exceptions to these strict deadlines under the statute of limitations?
Yes, though these are few in number and must only be applied to cases where solid justification exists. Extension of filing deadlines, normally referred to as “tolling” of the statute of limitations may be permitted under certain circumstances.
Though the ‘discovery rule’ is an exception frequently applied to personal injury claims and makes way for claims building up over even 10 years or more, a few other exceptions do apply:
- When the plaintiff is a minor (the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the plaintiff’s 18th birthday);
- If the defendant was absent from the state for a certain period of time;
- When the plaintiff is mentally incompetent, as long as the incompetence did not result from the injury underlying the suit; and
- If the plaintiff/defendant dies.
Personal injury claims are time-sensitive and should be addressed early. If you believe you have a cause of action for a personal injury, act quickly. Contact the Alexander Law Group, LLP to preserve your rights. For a free, confidential consultation, call 888.777.1776 or contact us online.