If you are considering filing a personal injury case in Southern California, it is essential to understand the statute of limitations for your case. The statute of limitations is a legal deadline that states the time limit you have to file a lawsuit.

Once the deadline passes, you may lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the statute of limitations and ensure that you take legal action promptly within the stipulated time to protect your rights and potential compensation.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in Southern California?

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Southern California is two years from the date of the injury. This implies that you have two years from the date of the accident or injury to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file a claim within this timeframe, you may lose your right to seek compensation.

Determining the statute of limitations expiry date on a personal injury claim can be challenging. If you are uncertain how to calculate the timeframe available, it is advisable to seek assistance from a lawyer.

When Does the Clock Start Running?

The clock for the statute of limitations starts running on the date of the injury. The two-year countdown begins on the day you got injured or became aware of your injury. 

Sometimes, the clock may be “tolled” or paused, which can extend the statute of limitations. Tolling can occur in situations outside the plaintiff’s control, such as if the defendant left the state, if the injured person was mentally or physically incapacitated, or if the victim is a minor. If tolling applies to your case, it is critical to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

Yes. Several exceptions exist to the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Southern California. 

The most common exception is delayed discovery. Delayed discovery means the injured person did not discover their injury until way after they were injured. For example, some injuries may only be apparent days or weeks following an accident. In such cases, the statute of limitations may be extended.

Another exception involves minors. If a minor is injured, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the minor turns 18.

Additionally, if the defendant left the state, the clock may be tolled until they return. This is because defendants out of the state cannot be served legal documents outside the state. Therefore, they can only be sued once they return to Southern California. When they return, the statute of limitations countdown will resume or start.

Personal Injury Cases With Different Statutes of Limitations in Southern California

While the two-year deadline applies to most personal injury cases, some have different statutes of limitations in Southern California. These include the following:

  • Government Entity Cases

Before pursuing legal action against a government agency, you must submit an administrative claim to the responsible office or agency. After submitting your claim, the government has 45 days to respond. If the government denies your claim during this period, you have up to six months from the date of denial to file a lawsuit in court.

  • Domestic Violence Cases

Domestic violence victims in Southern California have three years from the last incident or violence or from the date they discovered or should have discovered the injury.

  • Child Sex Abuse Cases

The statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases is until the victim turns 40 or within five years of discovering the injury, whichever is later.

  • Felony Cases

The statute of limitations for felony cases depends on the severity of the crime. For example, serious felony offenses such as rape, murder, attempted murder, or kidnapping have a 10-year statute of limitations from the date the defendant is discharged. Less serious felony offenses have a one-year statute of limitations from the defendant’s judgment.

  • Medical Malpractice Cases

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is three years from the date of the injury. However, if the injury was not immediately detected, you have one year from the date the injury was discovered.

What Happens if You Miss the Deadline?

If you miss the statute of limitations deadline for your personal injury case in Southern California, you may lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries. This means the court will likely dismiss your claim, and you will not be able to recover damages from the at-fault party unless you can prove one of the exceptions discussed earlier. 

Two years may seem like a long time. Still, it can slip away faster than you realize, especially when you have to manage doctor’s appointments, communicate with insurance adjusters, and even cope with lost wages due to absence from work. Therefore, it is crucial to take swift action after sustaining an injury.

Need Help Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Southern California? Contact the Experienced Burbank Lawyers Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Southern California, seeking legal representation as soon as possible is essential. At Avaness Law, our experienced personal injury attorneys understand the intricacies of the law and are committed to fighting for the compensation you deserve. Book a free consultation with us today at 818-403-3382, and let’s delve into the specifics of your case together.