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How Long Do I Have To File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California?

If you are considering filing a personal injury claim in California, you will need to understand your filing deadline and what to do to ensure that you get the maximum compensation for your damages. It’s also important to know when the clock starts on the statute of limitations.
What is a statute of limitations?
All crimes and civil suits have a deadline in which a claimant must come forward to file their suit. Evidence erodes over time, and memories fade, so the law has built-in protections to ensure that people are not taken to court many years after an event. Only the most egregious crimes are exempt from this. If someone tries to claim that their injuries were due to an accident that happened many years ago, then there is no way to ensure that another event caused the injury in the time period since then. A statute of limitations can prevent individuals or entities from being held legally responsible for damages that may or may not have been caused by them.
To this end, in accordance with the California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, you have two years from the date of the accident to file your civil lawsuit caused by a negligent or wrongful act.

Is it too late to sue?
The only way to know if it is too late to sue, according to personal injury attorneys at Maho Prentice, LLP, is to discuss your claim with an experienced personal injury attorney. Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, so there’s no risk to you getting a professional opinion from a legal expert.
​​If you file your claim after two years have passed since the date of the incident or accident, then it’s very likely that the court will dismiss your case based on the statute of limitations expiring. At that point, you no longer have a right to seek damages for your injuries, regardless of how extensive they may have been, how clear the defendant’s liability is, or what type of evidence you have.
Maho Prentice LLC also recommends that you speak to a personal injury attorney because, in rare cases, a claimant may be entitled to an extension of the statute of limitations. For example, if you did not discover the injury or were aware of the facts, that would’ve caused a reasonable person to suspect, but they were harmed by someone else’s wrongful act or negligence. You may still be eligible for damages. This is referred to as “delayed discovery.” If you were a minor at the time of the accident and you like the legal capacity to make decisions, but are now 18 or older, then you may be eligible to file for damages.
Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney Early Is Key
The longer the time period between the date of the accident and you filing your claim, the more likely the defendant’s attorneys will argue that your injuries were due to another event unrelated to their client. You increase your chances of getting the compensation that you deserve when you seek an attorney right away. A personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights and ensure you meet critical deadlines.

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