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Monterey Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > Personal Injury > The Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in California

The Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in California


When you are injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to seek compensation.

It is possible to recover damages for the losses you sustain, including medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and related issues. Still, there are restrictions, most notably, the personal injury statute of limitations in California.

Time is of the essence in all situations where a person sustains injuries due to the negligent acts of another person. Therefore, after you seek medical treatment, your next step should be reaching out to a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer will make sure that you adhere to the statute of limitations.

Overview of California’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

Put simply, you have two years after an accident to file an official lawsuit in court. The clock starts the date of the accident.

Consequences of Missing the Statute of Limitations Deadline

If you do not file an official lawsuit in court within the statute of limitations, your claim is forever barred.

However, the operation of the statute is not automatic. Instead, the defendant uses it as a defense when you sue, and the court will dismiss it unless you have a qualifying exception. This is a harsh consequence. Since the personal injury statute of limitations in California applies regardless of the severity of your injuries, it does not matter if the defendant is clearly liable.

The statute of limitations will also affect any claim you file with an insurance company. If you try to seek compensation after the two-year mark, the insurer will most definitely deny your claim. Because your legal right to sue in court is already terminated, you may be out of options.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

There are some circumstances where the personal injury statute of limitations in California is “tolled.” This means the clock stops running and the time period extends.

  • In a medical malpractice case, you may not discover that you were affected by a medical error until later. The statute of limitations does not start until you realize that you suffered injuries.

  • In the case of a minor, the victim does not have the legal capacity to sue for his or her injuries. The statute of limitations extends until that person has reached adulthood.

  • If the responsible party left the state of California after causing the accident but before you filed a lawsuit, there is an exception to the two-year rule.

Talk to an Attorney About the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in California

If you have questions about how California’s statute of limitations works in your case, please contact the Allen Law Firm. We can schedule a Free Consultation to review the details of your claim.

Contact us today to schedule your Free Consultation.

Author Photo

Scott Allen

Scott Allen is the founder of Allen Law Firm. Scott earned his Juris Doctor degree from the Boalt Hall School of Law (now known as Berkeley Law) at the University of Berkeley in California and has over 20 years of experience practicing personal injury law. He is a member of the State Bar of California and has earned a Superb rating by Avvo. To learn more about Scott, read his full bio here.

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