One of the last things on your mind when recovering from a serious personal injury is trying to find a lawyer, but beware if you wait too long the law may prevent you from recovering for your injuries. When is it to late to sue?
Check The Statute of Limitations
In California generally there is a two year statute of limitations to file suit for “assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” (CCP § 335.1)
From the Date of Discovery
The time period begins to run when the cause of action “accrues.” (CCP § 312) Ordinarily this is when the wrongful act is committed. Under certain circumstances, accrual may be delayed until you discover the facts, or when you should have discovered that the injury was caused by wrongdoing. (See generally, Fox v. Ethicon Endo–Surgery, Inc. (2005) 35 C4th 797.)
Libel, Slander & False Imprisonment
Some personal injury actions are subject to a one-year statute of limitations – including libel, slander, false imprisonment and forged checks. (CCP § 340)
In cases of injuries caused by medical mistakes, an alternative statute of limitations determines the time limit. The statute has two different deadlines: (i) it authorizes suit one year after plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury; BUT in no event can the time period exceed three years, absent a few narrow exceptions (CCP § 340.5).
Claims against public entities have an even shorter limitation period. You are required to present a formal claim within six months of the injury. If the claim is denied, only then are you allows to file suit. (Gov. C § 911.2) This time period applies to many injuries caused by public transportation and even for medical injuries at public hospitals.
An Attorney Can Assist
Instead of trying to decipher the maze of deadlines and time limits, you can speak with a qualified personal injury attorney in your area. Even though time has passed, you shouldn’t always assume that your case isn’t worth pursuing. It might not be too late to get compensation for your injury.
California Courts Judicial Branch “Statute of Limitations“
Nolo Law “Is It Too Late to Sue FAQ“