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California’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims: What You Need to Know

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When you are dealing with a personal injury after a car crash, slip and fall, or other incident, you have a lot on your plate consuming your time. There are doctor bills, insurance paperwork, car repairs and countless receipts, not to mention dealing with a painful physical recovery all while trying to put your life back in order after it has been thrown into chaos by someone else’s negligence. One thing you can’t afford to put off amid all this confusion is your personal injury claim; if you wait too long, you could miss out on your chance to hold the negligent party accountable to you for the harm they’ve caused.

Learn about California’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims by reading below. If you or a family member has been hurt by the negligence of another in Southern California, contact Machtinger Law to speak with a skilled and knowledgeable Los Angeles personal injury lawyer.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations in California

The statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. In the context of personal injury cases in California, this time limit is typically two years from the date of the injury. This means that if you have suffered harm due to someone else’s negligence or intentional conduct, you have a two-year window to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.

Why Timely Action is Crucial

  1. Preservation of Evidence: Over time, evidence can become lost or less reliable. Witness memories may fade, and physical evidence may deteriorate. Filing your claim promptly helps ensure that the evidence supporting your case remains strong.

  2. Legal Compliance: Adhering to the statute of limitations is crucial for your case to be considered by a court. If you file your lawsuit after this period has expired, your case is likely to be dismissed, and you will lose the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries.

  3. Financial Recovery and Healing: Timely filing allows you to seek compensation sooner, which can help cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. This financial support is vital for your recovery and moving forward after an injury.

Exceptions to the Rule

While the two-year limit is the general rule in California, there are exceptions that might extend or shorten this period:

  • Discovery Rule: In some cases, the injury or its cause might not be immediately apparent. California law acknowledges this through the discovery rule, which starts the clock when the injury is discovered or should have reasonably been discovered.

  • Claims Against Government Entities: If your injury involves a government entity in California, you must file a notice of claim with the appropriate government office within six months from the date of the injury.

  • Minor Plaintiffs: For minors, the statute of limitations does not begin until they reach 18 years of age, giving them until their 20th birthday to file a claim.

  • Medical Malpractice: In most circumstances, claims against healthcare providers for professional negligence must be filed within one year from the time the victim discovers, or should have discovered, the injury; and, regardless, no later than three years after the injury. Other deadlines may apply for young children, fraudulent concealment, and certain foreign bodies. Machtinger Law APC handles medical malpractice claims that involve very large economic damages, which are past and future medical care, and past and future lost income. 

Seeking Legal Assistance

Navigating personal injury law and understanding the statute of limitations can be complex, but you don’t have to do it alone. Machtinger Law, a reputable personal injury law firm in Los Angeles, is committed to guiding injury victims through every step of their legal journey. Our experienced attorney can help you understand your legal options, ensure compliance with all relevant laws, and work diligently to pursue the compensation you deserve. While it might not even be necessary to file a lawsuit to resolve your claim, starting early with an attorney helps ensure you get the medical care and other services you need while building a case for a satisfactory settlement and preserving your right to file a lawsuit if needed.

Call Machtinger Law and Take the First Step Today Toward Resolving Your Claim

If you or a loved one has been injured, it’s crucial to act swiftly. Call Machtinger Law at 310-943-9300 for a free consultation to get started today. Our team will review your case, inform you about your rights, and provide the dedicated representation you need to navigate your personal injury claim successfully.

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