Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in California

If you are in the state of California and the victim of an accident caused by someone’s intentional or negligent behavior, you might be considering the steps you need to take before filing a personal injury lawsuit. Before you seek legal remedies for your accident, it might help to better understand how the statute of limitations applies to lawsuits like yours.

Below you’ll find details about deadlines, time limits, and particulars for filing personal injury lawsuits in the state of California, including scenarios where extensions may be provided to the injured party. To ensure a timely lawsuit process and a more effective  litigation experience, you will want to seek legal representation. At our law firm, we have accumulated years of experience dealing with cases like yours in California and know how to best represent you regardless of your situation.


Statute of Limitations Explained

In the US, states are entrusted with setting limits on certain lawsuits. Depending on where you file a personal injury lawsuit, the amount of time you’re given to file the necessary paperwork can differ. The statute of limitations can also depend on the kind of lawsuit that is being filed. When you have exceeded the amount of time afforded to you to file your lawsuit, your claim will not be able to proceed.


Filing a Lawsuit in California

If you are looking to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, the California Code of Civil Procedure gives the injured party two years from the date of the incident to seek compensation or some other form of legal remedy.

This covers nearly all forms of personal injury lawsuits, thanks to the common principle of negligence leading to the incident in question.


What Happens if I Miss my Deadline?

If you fail to file your lawsuit within the two-year period, the defendant (the negligent party being sued) will more than likely make a case that this case exceeds California’s statute of limitations. In that scenario, the judge is likely to dismiss your case, and you will not be able to seek damages for your injury. This will likely result from waiting too long to file. Regardless of how strong your attorney’s case might be or how clearly negligence would be established in court, the case is no longer legally viable.

This is not to say that California’s two years are imposed on injured parties for some arbitrary reason or just limited to the lawsuit itself. The filing deadlines have been put in place to ensure that the other party and any involved insurance companies have enough time to investigate the case, preserve evidence, and  pursue any negotiations outside of court.

This means that as the injured party, much of your leverage in negotiations is confined to this two-year window. The longer you wait to file an actual lawsuit, the less impact it has on the negligent party and their representation. Knowing when to adhere to the procedure will let the defendant know just how seriously to take your potential lawsuit.


Are There Any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

While you are afforded two years to file your lawsuit from the incident in question and most defendants will point out the relevant timeline in court, there are some exceptions to this rule.

The state of California has recognized a few scenarios where a delay on the statute of limitations can be extended, extending the two-year filing deadline. And these are some examples of what has qualified for a filing extension in the state of California:

  • Delayed Discovery – Delayed Discovery is when an injured party was unaware of specific facts surrounding their accident that would result in some form of legal remedy. These would be facts that would lead a reasonable person to suspect that their injury resulted from a third party’s negligence or reckless behavior.
  • Lack of Legal Capacity – If the injured party is under the age of 18 when the incident occurred, or their legal capacity was limited by mental illness, extra time may be granted to file their personal injury lawsuit.
  • Leaving the State – When the negligent party leaves California within those first two years before the lawsuit can be filed, the California Code of Civil Procedure may permit the injured party more time.


Contact Our San Jose, CA Injury Lawyers

Any attorney filing a personal injury lawsuit in California needs to have a detailed understanding of the statute of limitations and all the ways that can help or hurt your standing in court. Being experienced in such lawsuits in California, we know how to best preserve your rights.

If you have sustained an injury that resulted from someone’s negligent, reckless, or otherwise wrongful behavior, we can best represent you in the state of California. Contact us to get a detailed consultation and get to know our experienced personal injury attorneys.