Understanding the Statute of Limitations For Personal Injury Cases

If you or a loved one are injured due to the negligent actions of someone else, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim. In the event that you wish to file for damages, it is essential to understand the statute of limitations and how this will affect your case.

In this article, we will discuss the following:

  • What is the statute of limitations?
  • California statute of limitations for personal injury
  • Missing the statute of limitations deadline
  • Exceptions to the statute of limitations for personal injuries

What is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is “any law that bars claims after a certain period of time passes after an injury. The period of time varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of claim.”

Every state has established laws that limit the amount of time an individual has to file a lawsuit in civil court. Most states have a statute of limitations that specifically applies to personal injury cases or lawsuits that claim negligence.

If you are interested in filing a lawsuit, you must be aware of the statutes of limitations for personal injury in your state.

statute of limitations for personal injury

California Statute of Limitations For Personal Injury

The California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 states that the injured party or accident victim has 2 years, from the time of the incident, to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation from the party at fault.

The statute of limitations begins “from the date of the injury, or the date it was discovered, or the date on which it would have been discovered with reasonable efforts.”

It is important to familiarize yourself with the statute of limitations for personal injury in your state if you have been involved in an accident, even if you do not intend to file a claim. If you are making a legal claim through insurance, it is beneficial to leave yourself enough time to consider taking legal action or using the option as leverage when negotiating a personal injury settlement with a private party.


More than three decades ago, the California legislature passed a law that was designed to provide government entities notice of a lawsuit so that they would have enough time to investigate these claims.

Personal injury claims against government entities must be filed within six months from the time the incident occurred. Failure to file a claim within those six months will likely result in the inability to file a claim against that government agency.

You may appeal to the court to file a late claim if you have gone beyond this six-month period. However, this process can be complex, and it may be in your best interest to have a personal injury attorney by your side to help you through the process.

Missing the Statute of Limitations Deadline

What happens if you fail to file your claim within the two-year period? In cases such as this, it is possible for the defendant (at-fault party) to bring this to light, and the court may dismiss your case. If this happens, you will have lost your right to seek the compensation you deserve, regardless of how crucial your damages for injuries may be.

Bear in mind that the statute of limitations clock isn’t just relevant when you’re pursuing a legal case against the defendant. This deadline is also critical for any discussions about a potential settlement between yourself and the liable party or their insurance provider. If more than two years have passed since the incident, then it means your chances of obtaining a satisfactory outcome are greatly diminished.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries

In some cases, the statute of limitations may begin after the day you were injured. The State of California acknowledges situations in which the two-year period for filing a legal suit, as stated in section 335.1, can be delayed or paused. The following situations may extend the statute of limitation deadline:

Delayed Discovery 

In certain situations, the effects of an accident may take some time to manifest. For instance, after being involved in a car accident one might not experience any discomfort until several days or weeks have passed. In these cases, the statute of limitations may be extended because it is difficult to determine when the injury occurred, and you must not be penalized if you were unaware of the injury.

This is also known as the “discovery rule”, an example of such a case may be the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination lawsuit. The Camp Lejeune water contamination incident occurred between 1953 to 1987, the water supply at Camp Lejeune in the United States Marine Corps was contaminated due to hazardous waste being improperly disposed of on the base, causing victims to suffer from health complications in later years.

In this case, the statute of limitations deadline has passed, therefore the only way you may file a personal injury lawsuit for the injuries you sustained would be through the doctrine of the discovery rule.

The Injured Person is Underaged 

If the individual who sustained an injury in an accident was under the age of 18 or they lacked the legal capacity to make decisions, the two-year timeline may be modified.

Defendant Left the State 

If the at-fault party in your personal injury lawsuit is from outside of California, the time period for filing a lawsuit may be temporarily delayed until they return to California. This is because defendants living outside of California are not subject to the service of process in California. Once the defendant returns to California, the statute of limitations clock will begin to run again.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?

Although the injured or aggrieved party may file a personal injury claim on their own, the complexities of these cases may make these difficult to handle while recovering from injuries sustained.

With an experienced personal injury attorney by your side, you can rest assured that your case is being taken care of and filed within the California statute of limitations for personal injury.

At Farahi Law Firm, not only will we ensure that your case is filed before the deadline, but we will work aggressively to recover the compensation you deserve. We will also put you in touch with the best health care providers to help you on your road to recovery.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another party, do not hesitate to contact us today for a free case consultation. We are here to help.

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