California residents who haven’t been involved in a car accident or other personal injury claim may not realize there are time limits set by law governing how long they have to file a lawsuit to seek compensation. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. Generally, once the time runs out a claim isn’t valid anymore. The length of time applicable in a case depends upon the type of legal claim involved. It can be confusing to figure out at times, and this question is often better answered by an attorney with experience in litigation.
According to California Judicial Branch information, personal injury claims such as victims of a car accident might choose to file must be submitted to the court no later than two years from the date of their injuries. If it happens that an injury wasn’t discovered within that time-frame, then that person has one year from the date it was discovered within which to sue. Property damage from a car crash can be claimed up to three years from the date of the accident. Two, three or four years are common timeframes for claims such as breach of contract and property damage. Murder, however, carries no statute of limitations. Medical malpractice cases vary, depending upon specifics, from one to three years. Claims against the government may need to be filed within six months.
Every now and then the statute of limitations is suspended, or tolled, for a period of time. This may be in cases where a defendant is a minor or out of the state for example. Once he or she returns to California or whatever other reason for the tolling is resolved, the statute of limitations begins to run again. It may not be wise for anyone to make assumptions about this complicated calculation; advice from counsel is beneficial.
While accident cases have some basic similarities, each is unique as well. A timely conversation with an attorney may be the best way to determine which specific laws apply in your situation. Losing the opportunity to seek compensation because the statute of limitations has run is an avoidable dilemma.
Source: California Courts, “Statute of Limitations” Oct. 16, 2014