STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Automobile Accident Lawyer, Stockton CA
Stockton Personal Injury Attorney
Statute of limitations is the time limit a person has to bring a case forth to court.
If you were injured due to conditions outside your control, but in the control of another group or individual, you may believe there should be no time limit on seeking compensation for your injuries. Unfortunately, this is a false belief! There is a statute of limitations on almost all cases of personal injury and it is dependent on the way in which those injuries incurred and the individual or organization against whom you intend to file charges, not the extent or nature of your injury.
The clock starts ticking from the moment the injury occurred and could be timing down from just one year. Be sure to understand the nature of your accident and exactly who would be held liable in order to operate on the correct statute of limitations. California law is pretty similar to most states in the various statutes of limitations, but it could be surprising to find out the exact rules. Every case is different and only an experienced Stockton personal injury attorney at The Friel Law Firm can help you file a claim on time.
Purpose of Statutes of Limitations
Statutes of limitations may seem very inconvenient and unnecessarily stressful, but they do exist for good reason. They are meant to create a practical timeline for legal action and fairness when filing lawsuits. It is not fair to be in a situation where you may be sued for something that happened decades ago. It is also unlikely that a judge would be able to make a fair judgement when the time of the presentation of evidence is so far removed from the time of the incident in question. It also creates a definitive end time for a legal dispute. If nothing is done within a certain time period, both parties will have to let it be.
Though there are many things to worry about when you incur an injury, it’s very important to think about your legal rights and the next step you want to take. It’s a very good idea to seek legal help from a knowledgeable Stockton car accident lawyer to help you understand your case and do work on your behalf.
As in most situations pertaining to the judicial system, there are many variations and exceptions. Below is a list of some forms of injury and their relevant statute of limitations:
- Injury to a person: any type of assault, battery, injury, or death caused by the wrongful or negligent act of another person has a statute of limitations of 2 years.
- Known problems (i.e. patent defects): any type of poor property design, survey, construction, etc. that results in damage or injury has a statute of limitations of 4 years from the last date of construction.
- Medical malpractice: this has a limitation of 1 year from the date the plaintiff discovered or should have discovered the injury and 3 years from the date of injury (whichever is the shorter period).
- Actions brought against any agency or office of the government: The statute of limitations involving any government entity is much shorter. You must file a special “administrative” claim when taking action against the government to alert the exact office of your intent to sue. This must be done within 6 months from the time of injury. The government then has 45 days to respond. If the government denies your claim, you have 6 months to file in court from the date the denial was mailed out or directly given to you. If the government fails to respond within 45 days, you have 2 years from the date of the incident to file in court.
As you can see, there are complicated and somewhat ambiguous rules about when and how to file a claim, especially when dealing with a government entity. There are also some cases in which exceptions may be made. This is another reason why it is so important to have high quality legal representation – experienced attorneys have deep knowledge of these regulations and can work within the time limits to create a strong case. A Stockton car accident lawyer can help you with any legal ambiguity you are facing.
Tolling Statutes of Limitations
The state of California has a process called “tolling,” in which the statute of limitations for a crime may be paused. Some examples of cases in which a statute of limitations may be tolled include the following:
- The defendant is a minor
- The defendant is currently serving time
- The defendant has been declared insane
The tolling may be lifted after the circumstances have changed. For example, the statute of limitations will start ticking away once a minor turns 18, an individual is released from prison, or the declaration of insanity is lifted. It is very important to communicate with an experienced legal representative to educate you on all these relevant details and jump through the legal hoops on your behalf. It could make the difference in whether you are compensated for your injury.
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