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Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

Individuals who have suffered a personal injury in Los Angeles or in other Californian city are advised to take action as soon as possible. This is because the California laws impose certain limitations on filing claims in a personal injury case.

Depending on your case, you can to get in touch with our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys and discuss your situation.

What is a statute of limitations according to the Californian laws?

The simplest definition of the statute of limitations is the timeframe in which a plaintiff, in this case, an individual who has suffered a personal injury in Los Angeles or anywhere else in California, can file a claim and initiate a lawsuit for the accident suffered.  Personal injury cases in Los Angeles fall under the California Civil Procedure Code, Sections 335.1 to 340.

Depending on the accident suffered, it is best to ask Los Angeles personal injury lawyers to review the case and the statute of limitations it falls under to know how to proceed to obtain the best outcome and the right compensation.

Below you can watch a short video on the statute of limitations, presented by our attorneys:

What is the statute of limitations for personal injuries in Los Angeles?

The usual statute of limitations for a personal injury case in California is two years. However, there are situations, like personal injuries caused by medical malpractice which take time to be noticed.

Medical malpractice cases have a statute of limitations of one year after the discovery of the injury or three years from the date of the injury (whichever comes first). An exemption applies in case of medical instruments or sponges left in the patient’s body. Our medical malpractice lawyer in Los Angeles can answer your questions.  You can read more about this issue in the paragraphs below.

This special “discovery of harm” rule, as it is called, allows the plaintiff to file a lawsuit against the defendant within a year from discovering the injury. While it generally applies in medical malpractice cases but it may be used in other personal injury situations in which the plaintiff was unaware of an injury sustained in an accident until a later date. Mothers who have suffered birth injuries in California have the right to file a claim within 6 months from discovering it if the hospital they gave birth in is a state facility. Another exception is if the defendant is a minor. In this case, the lawsuit will be stopped until the defendant reaches adulthood.

The special discovery of harm rule can apply only when the victim is able to clearly link the injury to a past accident. Medical records are very important in this case. The medical treatment needed immediately after the accident as well as future medical care may be compensated for if the plaintiff can prove that the injury was linked to the accident.

No matter the case, it very important to know that waiting for the statute of limitations to close in can cause more harm so immediate action should be taken and our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys should be contacted as soon as your condition allows it. Failing to do so, you will miss the chance to be compensated for the injury you suffered, as well as for the ulterior pain you will go through. Moreover, plaintiffs who fail to bring the case to court before the end of the statute of limitations may encounter another risk: the defendant may take advantage of the late filing and use it as a defense. 

In some cases, the California statute of limitations may be extended. Such examples include:

  • if the plaintiff is a minor;
  • if the defendant was not in the state of California for a certain period of time;
  • if the plaintiff serves military services or a prison sentence.

You should always consult with a personal injury lawyer if one of the above situations apply, in order to determine how and if these cases influence the statute of limitations period. For assistance or more information on the statute of limitations in California, please contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys.