Accidents happen every day in California and nationally, and if someone’s negligence caused the incident, you could be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, California has a statute of limitations for filing a claim, so you should promptly speak to a Fullerton personal injury lawyer at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. today for legal advice.
Forbes states that a statute of limitations establishes a time limit for how long a plaintiff has to file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident. You must file your lawsuit within that time to take legal action, with a few exceptions.
In most types of cases, California’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is only two years. Some statutes of limitation for personal injury can be as short as 6 months! So, an injured party generally has between 6 months and two years from the accident date to file a case. The clock for the statute of limitations starts on that date, so it is essential to contact an attorney promptly. Collecting sufficient evidence for a personal injury lawsuit takes time. If you wait until just before the statute of limitations runs out, many attorneys may be reluctant to take the case.
There are limited circumstances in which the statute of limitations can be delayed or tolled. For instance, if the plaintiff is under 18 when the accident happens, the statute of limitations will start once they become an adult on their 18th birthday. Also, if the party is mentally incapacitated when the accident happens, the statutory clock might not start until the party regains their mental capacity.
The statute of limitations might even be shorter than 2 years, as short as 6 months. But in limited cases, you can have the statute of limitations start later than the day of injury. Two examples are:
In some accidents, you may be unaware of the injuries at first. Suppose people are in a California car accident and do not notice a back injury at first, but it arises after a few weeks, and they go to the doctor. In that case, the statute of limitations might be extended. After all, it is unfair to be penalized because someone did not know that the injury existed the day the accident happened.
If the defendant is not in the state, a statute of limitations might be tolled until they reenter California. This is because a defendant out of state is not subject to process service rules in California. This means they can only be sued once they return to the state. The statutory clock might restart when the defendant returns to California.
This is a common misconception, and the answer is no. The California statute of limitations applies only to cases that you file in court. In most cases, you will commence any insurance claim related to a personal injury claim within a few days or weeks of the accident. If it was a car accident, your auto insurance provider typically requires you to inform them promptly of any accidents.
Most personal injury lawsuits in California are filed in one of the state’s trial courts, which have jurisdiction over California civil trials. Usually, you will file the case in the courthouse for the county where the accident happened or where the person lives. The California personal injury lawsuit begins with:
In some cases, such as auto accidents, the person with injuries is partly responsible for the incident. If that happens in your incident, the amount of compensation you receive could be affected. California has a pure comparative negligence standard, which means the amount of money you receive in a lawsuit is reduced by your percentage of liability for the accident.
Suppose you are in a car accident where the other driver rear-ends you at a stop light. In most cases, that driver would be at fault. But if your brake lights were not functioning, you could be found partially liable for the incident. If you are awarded $10,000 in damages and are found 30% liable for the accident, your compensation would be reduced by $3,000.
However, remember that the comparative negligence rule applies to California courts in a lawsuit. Negotiating with an insurance adjuster outside the legal system can be another story. Do not be surprised if the other driver’s insurance company mentions the comparative negligence rule during settlement talks. But your personal injury attorney will advocate for you and try to get the other party assigned as much liability as they deserve for the accident.
No, there is no universal cap for damages in personal injury lawsuits in the state. However, there are a few laws that put limits on certain types of damages.
For example, California law bars most drivers without auto insurance from receiving pain and suffering damages after an auto accident. This is even if the other driver caused the accident. However, the uninsured driver could receive pain and suffering damages if an intoxicated driver hits the driver or that driver has been convicted of DUI related to that accident. Next, there is a $350,000 pain and suffering cap on most medical malpractice cases, which is raised annually per AB 35.
Were you injured in a California accident caused by another person or entity? You may have the right to file a lawsuit under California law, but you only have a limited time to act. However, taking on the legal system on your own is unlikely to lead to a successful outcome. Contact our Fullerton personal injury lawyer at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. We can quickly determine if you have a viable case, so please call (888) 883-6588 today.