Statute of Limitations – What Is It and How Can It Affect My Personal Injury Case?

Most of us have heard the phrase “statute of limitations”. But how does it affect your personal injury case? Let’s discuss it.

1. Statute of Limitations generally

A statute of limitations is a state or federal law that restricts the time limit within which a person may file a legal proceeding. The main purpose of a statute of limitations is to prevent fraudulent or stale claims from being brought well after the evidence has been lost or the facts have been obscured by the passage of time, loss of witnesses, and etc.

2. Which statute of limitations applies in my case?

The type of statute of limitations that applies in your case is determined by the cause of action under which your claim is being brought. For example, the general statute of limitations for personal injury claims is 2 years in California. This 2 year limitation begins from the date the injury or harm occurred. Unfortunately, it is not always that simple. The statute of limitations may be shortened or lengthened depending on such factors as who is being sued or what type of specific personal injury claim is being made. For example, a personal injury claim against a state or local governmental entity requires notice be given within 6 months of the accident. Some specific personal injury claims have extended statute of limitation periods. General examples include prenatal injuries (6 years), medical malpractice cases (specific rules), domestic or gender violence (3 years) and childhood sexual abuse (specific rules).

3. What is “tolling” of the statute of limitations?

When a statute of limitation has been “tolled” it means that the time within which a claim must be brought is essentially “paused” or “suspended” due to a certain event prescribed by a statute or to ensure fundamental fairness or practicality. Basic examples include imprisonment or death. As mentioned above, there are numerous specific grounds for tolling based on the type of case you have.

4. Conclusion

Overall, the statute of limitations is a very serious issue in all causes of action. If a claim is filed outside the time limit in the statute of limitations it is “barred” or prevented from being brought. Failure to determine the appropriate statute of limitations can result in a complete dismissal of your case.