When you’ve been seriously injured, the last thing on your mind is a lawsuit. In fact, most people don’t want to file personal injury claims against the people who caused serious injuries due to their negligence or bad conduct.
For many people, however, a personal injury claim is the only way to get necessary compensation to pay costly medical bills and recover lost wages.
It’s often also the only way to get justice for injured loved ones. After the shock of the accident wears off, you may find yourself wondering, “How long do I have to file a personal injury case in California?”
In most cases, the answer is fairly simple. You have two years after the injury occurs to file a personal injury case in California.
This means that victims and families of victims have some time to process the event and get a full sense of the damage that the trauma has caused before they must file a claim.
Still, as soon as you think you may consider filing a personal injury claim, you should talk to a California personal injury lawyer to ensure that you don’t miss your chance for justice.
Exceptions That Give You Longer Than Two Years to File a Personal Injury Case in California
Still, there are some exceptions to the two-year filing deadline for personal injury claims in California. The following five cases are the most common exceptions that will give you longer to file a personal injury case in California:
- The injured person did not discover the harm right away: Sometimes damage takes time to manifest itself (like in the case of chemical exposure, for example). In these cases, you have a year after the harm was discovered to file a personal injury claim.
- The family of a person killed in a wrongful death case is filing the case: You have two years to file a wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one. It does not matter how long after the accident occurred this is. The clock only starts after a death.
- The case relates to a car accident and you only want compensation related to damages to the car itself: You get three years to file a claim for damage to the vehicle, but not to file a personal injury claim related to injuries sustained during the accident.
- One of the parties involved was a minor: The two-year statute of limitations tolls (pauses to restart at a later date) for minor victims. The two-year window does not begin until the victim turns 18. Of course, parents or guardians can file a claim on a child’s behalf before that time.
- One of the parties was incapacitated, imprisoned, or out of the state during the normal two-year statute of limitations and was not able to file a claim: If a person is not physically able to file a claim due to these reasons, the statute of limitations tolls until their situation changes. Once the victim is released from prison, declared legally competent, or returns to the state, the two-year timer unpauses.
If your injury falls under one of these exceptions, you may have more time. Still, the exact exceptions only occur under very specific circumstances, so it’s always best to file a claim as early as possible. No one deserves to be injured or killed due to another person’s deliberate actions or negligence.
While nothing can undo an injury that does happen, a personal injury claim can help provide you with the resources you need to recover and move on. Talk to the California personal injury lawyers at Wakeford Law right away to see how we may be able to help get you justice.