A little-known fact about lawsuits is that there are time limits depending on the type of case you have. All states set time limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in civil court after you’ve suffered some type of harm. This kind of law is referred to as the statute of limitations, and there are different deadlines depending on the type of case you have.

In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives an injured person two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this two-year period, California law bars your right to obtain compensation through the legal process, which means if you file a lawsuit late, the other party can have the case dismissed. This statute of limitation can be found at California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 (“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.”)

Further, there are special circumstances that might affect when the statute of limitations starts to run and how much time you have to bring a lawsuit. For example, if you have claims for personal injury (including wrongful death) or damage to personal property against a city, county or California state government agency (“entity”), it must be presented “not later than six months after the accrual of the cause of action.” (All other claims, including claims for damage to real property, must be presented within one year after accrual.) For claim filing purposes, six months means the longer of six calendar months or 182 days. “Accrual” for claim filing purposes is measured by the same rules governing accrual of a cause of action for statute of limitations purposes—i.e., normally, a tort action “accrues” upon occurrence of the last fact essential to the cause of action.

Upon presentation of the claim, the entity has four choices: It may (1) “approve” the claim, (2) “reject” the claim, (3) give notice the claim is insufficient, or (4) do nothing. Any affirmative action (i.e., short of doing nothing) must be taken within 45 days of the claim’s presentation. Approval of the claim without condition essentially constitutes an agreement to pay the full amount sought by plaintiff. But only an express approval will suffice. The entity may reject the claim in its entirety, allow the claim in an amount justly due, rejecting any remainder, or compromise and settle the claim. As stated, the entity has only 45 days within which to accept, reject or compromise the claim. (Similarly, it has 45 days to act on an amended claim.) If it fails to act within the 45-day period, the claim is deemed rejected by operation of law. The public entity must give written notice of its action (acceptance, rejection, etc.) or of its inaction which is deemed a rejection, in compliance with Government Code section 913.

If the public entity sends proper written notice of the rejection, plaintiff has six months thereafter to file suit against the entity. Where the entity fails to give a notice that complies with Government Code section 913, or fails to give any notice, suit may be filed on the claim any time within two years of accrual of the cause of action. (However, where the entity rejects the claim, suit must be filed within six months of rejection … even if the rejection is given after the 45-day “mandatory” response period set forth in Government Code section 912.4)

Despite the time limits above, it’s never a good idea to wait to contact a personal injury attorney. Hiring a lawyer right away will not only protect your right to sue but it will allow the lawyer to assist you in maximizing your injury claim.

If you were injured in an accident due to the fault of another, contact the Law Offices of Daniel An today for your free consultation.


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