People who are injured in accidents caused by someone else’s negligence generally have the right to sue for the harms they suffered from the accident. However, this right does not last forever. The right to sue for injury is governed by a “statute of limitations” that usually gives victims 2 years to sue for personal injury in California.
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident or because of someone else’s negligence, contact the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today to discuss the deadline to file your case. There are rules that may allow you additional time to file your case, but you should always act quickly to ensure your case is filed on time. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our Ventura personal injury lawyers today at (805) 643-5555.
How Long is the Statute of Limitations for Injury Cases in California?
The California Code of Civil Procedure lists rules for the processes and procedures in civil lawsuits in California. Section 335.1 of this statute gives victims in personal injury cases 2 years to file their case. This includes lawsuits for any of the following injury cases:
- Assault and battery injuries
- Accidental injury
- Wrongful death
These cases can come in many forms. Car accident injury cases are some of the most common personal injury lawsuits, but you can also file lawsuits for medical malpractice, slip and fall injuries, premises liability injuries, defective product injuries, and any other accident caused by another person’s carelessness.
What Happens if I File My Personal Injury Lawsuit Too Late in California?
The statute of limitations exists to put a hard limit on how long you have to file your case. Cases filed too long after the injury are often tainted by poor memory, lost evidence, and witnesses who move away, pass away, or become unavailable to testify. Additionally, courts want to limit the amount of time people have to file so that only important, urgent cases are filed and so that no defendants are left looking over their shoulder for years wondering if a lawsuit will ever be filed.
To help fulfill these purposes and protect everyone’s rights, the statute of limitations can be used to block cases that are filed too late. If you were seriously injured, it is important to act quickly and aggressively pursue justice in your case. Waiting too long indicates to the court that the injuries were not urgent and the case is not important, and courts are allowed to dismiss cases that are filed after the 2-year deadline.
Defendants can raise the statute of limitations as a legal defense against the lawsuit, but the court can also raise the statute of limitations issue on its own to prevent a waste of court time and public funding.
Extending the Deadline to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California
In some cases, justice would not be served if the statute of limitations was used as a strict deadline to file. In cases where the victim was unable to sue throughout the 2-year period or in cases where the victim did not know about the injury and its cause, it would be unfair to hold them accountable to a short 2-year deadline.
The first reason to extend a deadline occurs when the victim is unable to file a lawsuit. Minors and people with mental disabilities that prevent them from understanding the case are permitted to pause the clock on the deadline. This means that the 2-year statute of limitations period does not start running until the victim’s disability has ceased, such as when a minor turns 18. This means if you were injured when you were a minor, you would generally have until you turn 20 to file an injury lawsuit.
Alternatively, you cannot be expected to file an injury case when you did not know that you were injured by someone else’s negligence. For instance, a patient may not know that the pain they feel after surgery is more than the normal post-operative pain, and it may take them weeks or months to realize that the doctor did something wrong. In cases where tools or materials were left inside a patient after surgery, it could take years to discover the injury. This delayed discovery allows you additional time to file if you did not discover the injury until after the 2-year period. However, if you discover the case within the normal deadline, you may still need to file before the 2-year period passes.
Call Our Ventura Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident, call our Ventura personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. The suspicion that your accident was caused by neglect or carelessness is often sufficient to start the 2-year countdown to the deadline to file your case. If you wait too long to file, it may be impossible to seek compensation for your injuries. Call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today to schedule a free legal consultation with our lawyers and get your case filed on time. Our number is (805) 643-5555.