Nearly every legal claim has a limitations period that applies to that particular type of case. If you attempt to assert a lawsuit after this deadline, your complaint will likely be dismissed immediately. This limitation period is often referred to as the “statute of limitations.”
While statutes of limitation may seem straightforward, they can actually be very complicated. As a rule, it is a good idea to involve a Los Angeles personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident or another injury. Their quick involvement will not only help you build your case, but it will also ensure that you do not overlook your deadline for filing a lawsuit.
Why Do Claims Have Statutes of Limitations?
Without limitations periods, potential lawsuits could just go on forever. While there are a few practical reasons that you should bring your case immediately, perhaps the main reason for these deadlines is for the benefit of defendants. It would be somewhat harsh to expect defendants to fear a lawsuit for the rest of their lives.
Memories fade and evidence may not be available if you wait too long to assert a lawsuit. A judge or jury is much more likely to get better evidence if the legal claim is brought soon after an injury or accident. It is just easier for your personal injury attorney in Los Angeles to build your case and preserve evidence if you act quickly.
The Limitations Period for Personal Injury Claims in Los Angeles, CA
Statute of limitations periods will vary depending on the type of case. For example, a situation that involves a violation of a written contract has a four-year limitations period. For personal injury claims, you should be aware of the following deadlines.
- Personal injuries: Two years from the date of the injury
- Property damages: Three years from the date of the loss
- Claims Against Government Agencies or Offices: Six months from the date of injury to file a special administrative claim
Pausing the Statute of Limitations: The Discovery Rule
There are several exceptions to the statute of limitations. The most common exception is often referred to as the “discovery rule.”
In some situations, you may not fully appreciate or understand that you have been injured. Under the circumstances, you would not know that you have a legal claim to assert until you discovered the damage. To account for this issue, the discovery rule allows you to start the statute of limitations period when you find out you were injured or damaged.
Consider a medical malpractice situation as an example. Imagine that you underwent surgery to take out your appendix. Although the operation may have seemed like it went fine at the time, it may take several days, weeks, or even months to determine that your doctor left a sponge inside of you. Once you realize the problem, the statute of limitations period will begin.
There may also be other exceptions to the statute of limitations rule that might apply to your case. Even if you think you may be outside the limitations period, it is a good idea to have your case examined by an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney.