In every injury case there will be a point in time when the law will prohibit you from pursuing your claim against the person or company who allegedly caused your injuries. These laws that terminate liability against a defendant are called statutes of limitation. The way to protect a statute of limitation and your claim to recover for injuries you may have suffered is to either:
1. Settle your claim with the person who caused your injuries, or that person’s insurance carrier prior to the expiration of the applicable limitations period; or,
2. File a lawsuit against the defendant in the appropriate court before the expiration of the relevant statute of limitation.
If you have a potential personal injury claim then you need to know the applicable statutes of limitation to avoid losing your rights. Unfortunately, I receive calls from people who have waited too long before bringing their case to a lawyer and the statute of limitation bars their ability to seek justice for their injuries. Here are just a few of the limitation periods which may apply depending on the nature of the claim and the identity of the defendant:
California Code of Civil Procedure §335.1: (Personal Injury) Within two years: An action for assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.
California Code of Civil Procedure §340.1. (Childhood Sexual Abuse) In an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse, the time for commencement of the action shall be within eight years of the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority or within three years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by the sexual abuse, whichever period expires later. (This limitation is applicable to certain circumstances described in the balance of the statute.)
California Code of Civil Procedure §340.5. (Medical Negligence) In an action for injury or death against a health care provider based upon such person's alleged professional negligence, the time for the commencement of action shall be three years after the date of injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first. In no event shall the time for commencement of legal action exceed three years unless tolled for any of the following: (1) upon proof of fraud, (2) intentional concealment, or (3) the presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, in the person of the injured person.
Government Code §§913 and 945.6 require a government notice within six months following the date of injury to preserve the right to pursue a government employee or agency for injury.
There are many more statutes of limitations which have applicability to different types of claims, including claims for damage to property, asbestos injuries, breach of written or oral contracts, etc. Because there are several possible statutes of limitation applicable to a case and the various causes of action, it is best to consult an attorney soon after an injury to avoid missing any statute of limitation applicable to your case. Also, early intervention with an attorney helps preserve evidence, testimony from witnesses and other substantive rights which may have a significant impact on your ability to recover.
If you are looking for an attorney, I recommend you contact the Inland Empire Law Group at 909-481-0100 to review your legal rights, the applicable statute of limitation, and whether you require the assistance of an attorney for your injury claim.