If you have been in a car accident and are looking to hire a personal injury lawyer, it is important to know and comply with California’s statute of limitations. Most, if not all personal injury cases, whether it be a car accident, dog bite, slip-and-fall have a statute of two years from the date of injury. This means that you have to years to file a claim with the court. Below, we are going to go over the statute in more detail, as well as some exceptions to the statute.
California Civil Code Section 335.1
We know that most people are not going to memorize or even remember civil codes. And that is okay. California Civil Code 335.1 is the official civil code for personal injury statute of limitations. It states that the injured party has “Within two years: an action for assault, battery, injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act of another” to seek a lawsuit and or seek compensation for their injuries.
What Happens if You Miss the Deadline?
Filing a lawsuit or claim after more than two years have passed is almost guaranteed to have your case dismissed in court. This is one of the main reasons we always tell people to contact a personal injury lawyer after they have been injured. You can lose the right to seek damages, no matter how severe your injuries, if you wait too long.
Take note that not only is it two years to file a lawsuit, but the filing deadline is crucial when your attorney is in settlement negotiations with the insurance company. Meaning, that your personal injury attorney has two years from the date of injury to settle your claim with the insurance company. Therefore, waiting too long to get in touch with an attorney can do more harm than good to your case. And your attorney may not have as much leverage for your case if the insurance company sees that you waited too long to file a claim.
Insurance adjusters and insurance companies are looking out for their best interests in every case. It is a part of their job. And when they see that you waited to file a claim or perhaps waited to seek treatment after your accident, they will use this to their advantage and will lowball your settlement greatly.
The Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Like anything, there are some exceptions to the statute of limitations rule. These rules are very specific and we have outlined them below:
- The persons injured did not discover and were not aware that they suffered from harm due to another. This is called the “delayed discovery” rule. This means that the clock on their statute of limitations will begin the day they discover their injuries were due to someone else’s negligent actions;
- The person injured was a minor (under 18 years of age) or they lack the capacity to make legal decisions on their own behalf at the time the incident occurred (hospitalized, next-of-kin, etc.);
- If the at-fault party leaves California after the accident and before a claim is filed and there is no insurance information at the time of the accident.
- If the claim is against a city, county, or government agency the statute of limitations is six months to file a claim and you have to adhere to very strict procedures;
- As difficult as this may be to hear, a lot of personal injury attorneys have a hard time taking these cases because of the strict liability laws as well as the limited time to file a claim. It does not give you time to heal, seek treatment, etc. And it does not give your attorney enough time to get a claim together.
You are still able to file a claim and seek a settlement under these exceptions. However, you need to have an accident lawyer who has experience working with people injured due to the negligence of another. You need an attorney who is familiar with California’s personal injury statute of limitations and how to navigate and deal with insurance adjusters.
If you or a family member has been seriously injured in a car accident or other incident and need to talk to a local personal injury lawyer in Orange County, do not hesitate to contact Silverthorne Attorneys at (949) 234-6034 and get your questions answered today. We have offices in Ladera Ranch, Huntington Beach, and Anaheim and work with clients throughout Southern California. Consultations are free!