The Lady of Justice and a clock signifying a statute of limitations.

What is a Statute of Limitations, and Why Should You Care?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

When another party injures you, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries. In many cases, recovering compensation begins by filing a claim with the insurance provider for the at-fault party. Many injury claims are settled with the insurance company. However, some claims cannot be settled outside of court. A California personal injury attorney may need to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation or damages. The statute of limitations that apply in your case could stop you from recovering compensation if you waited too long to consult an attorney about your case. 

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that restricts the time a party has to file a claim against another party. In other words, it sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. The deadlines for filing lawsuits vary by the type of case and state law. 

For example, each state has a statute of limitations that applies to car accidents. In California, the statute of limitations for injury claims arising from a car accident claim is typically two years from the date of the car crash. However, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim in California is usually three years from the date of injury or one year after you discover an injury. 

Why Should You Care About a Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is a deadline. Failing to file your personal injury claim before the statute expires bars you from recovering any compensation for your injuries and losses. You lose the right to hold the person or party legally liable for their actions that led to your injury. 

Are There Exceptions? 

Yes, there are a few exceptions to the statutes of limitations for personal injury claims. For instance, minors may have longer to file claims if the injury occurred while they were a minor. However, you should never assume that you have additional time to file a personal injury claim. In most cases, once the time to file a case “runs out,” you no longer have a legal claim against the other party. 

There could be additional requirements that shorten the statute of limitations. For example, if a government agency or entity is a party to the action, you have just a few months to file a notice of claim to preserve your right to file a personal injury lawsuit. Failing to file the notice of claim could result in losing the right to file a lawsuit. 

It is best to consult an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and options to avoid a statute of limitations problem. However, do not assume that you cannot file a claim. There could be an exception that extends the statute of limitations in your case. Talk with an attorney to determine if you still have a valid legal claim. 

Contact a California Personal Injury Attorney for Help

If you are injured in an accident, do not take a chance of losing your right to recover compensation from the party responsible for your injury. Contact our California personal injury attorney now to discuss your case. We will work hard to protect your legal rights and recover compensation for your injury.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.