If someone suffers injuries or other damages due to the negligent actions of another person or entity, the injured party can seek compensation for those losses through a personal injury claim. Each state has unique laws concerning civil actions such as personal injury claims. It’s imperative that anyone considering filing a lawsuit knows their state’s statute of limitations for filing civil actions.
The statute of limitations exists to ensure preservation of evidence and witness availability. Witnesses’ memories fade and are no longer as reliable in court after two years. Evidence may deteriorate or go missing, and pivotal figures in a case may move out of the area or die. A strict statute of limitations helps prevent these issues and unnecessarily long litigation battles.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is the time limit a plaintiff has to file a civil action against a defendant after suffering injury or economic loss. In California, the statute of limitations is two years for personal injury claims. This time limit usually starts ticking down on the date the plaintiff’s injuries or losses occurred, but there are exceptions. Some injuries and medical conditions may at first appear less severe than they truly are. Some medical issues do not manifest symptoms for months or even years, making it difficult for some plaintiffs to pinpoint the exact date an injury or illness occurred. In these cases, the statute of limitations begins on the “date of discovery,” or the date when the effects of an incident manifest.
Some cases still fall under the purview of personal injury law but have different statutes of limitations. For example, medical malpractice claims are negligence cases brought against doctors and other healthcare professionals for harming patients. California allows a three-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims following the date of injury, or one year following the date of discovery. The date of discovery statute of limitations extends to three years for injured children between the ages of six and eight.
The statute of limitations is much shorter when filing a civil action against any public organization or government agency. In California, plaintiffs have 180 days starting on the date of injury or date of discovery to file notices of personal injury claims and must do so before pursuing a lawsuit. If a plaintiff fails to meet this notice deadline, the defendant agency will likely file a motion to dismiss the case.
Seek Reliable Legal Counsel
An injured person who is considering filing a lawsuit for his or her injures and other damages should meet with a reliable, experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The statute of limitations is just one of the many deadlines plaintiffs must meet to successfully file a civil action. A good attorney will help clients meet their filing deadlines and issue their complaints within the statute of limitations and other applicable time limits.
Our Oakland personal injury lawyers will also be able to help an injured client assess all the avenues of compensation available after getting hurt. Since some injuries and medical conditions do not immediately manifest symptoms, it can take quite a long time before a patient reaches his or her maximum possible recovery and can see the full scope of the injury and its effects. Additionally, the two-year statute of limitations will help an attorney find every possible defendant in a client’s case and sue all of them to maximize his or her client’s recovery.