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Exceptions to the California Two-Year Statute of Limitations

When you get injured in an accident or you’re dealing with any other legal issue, you may be wondering if there are any exceptions to the California two-year statute of limitations (the time limits to file a lawsuit), as well as how to pursue a lawsuit against the defendant within that short timeframe.

If you need legal help with your claim, then get in touch with Heiting & Irwin. We have been serving our clients since 1976, and compensation for cases has ranged from thousands of dollars to multimillions of dollars. We have recovered over $400 million for clients; and we will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve. Make sure you contact us today for your free consultation to get started.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations (civil law) is a law that will set the maximum amount of time that can pass until somebody must file a lawsuit after an incident to pursue their claim(s). Each state or jurisdiction sets its own statutes of limitations. There are many, many types.  If you fail to file a lawsuit within that designated time frame, then you will probably not be able to pursue legal action. While some cases within the categories of personal injuries, car accidents, medical practice, and other non-criminal cases may have a shorter statute of limitations, it all depends on the type of case, the defendants, and the applicable laws in the state (or federal, if it’s a federal claim).

If you live in California, then you’ll need to know what the exceptions are to the two-year statute of limitations when you’re involved in a lawsuit or you hope to initiate one.

Exceptions to the Two-Year Statute of Limitations

California has a number of exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations and they change from time to time based on new legislation.  As of the writing of this, they include property damage/trespassing, child assault/sex abuse, fraud, wrongful birth, victim of serious felony, and breach of contract (written contract is different than oral contract).

Time limits can also be shorter than two (2) years.  For example, medical malpractice can be one (1) year.  If a public entity is involved, it can be as short as six (6) months! 

Legal Claims That Fall Under the Two-Year Statute of Limitation in California

The two-year statute of limitations in California applies to most types of personal injury, wrongful death, false imprisonment, and breach of oral contract. A shorter one-year statute of limitations applies to defamation, medical malpractice and legal malpractice (some limits depend on when you discover the wrongdoing or the damages), asbestos exposure, and others.  This list is not meant to be exhaustive or to be relied upon.  See an attorney immediately to discuss time limits in your case.

How to File a Legal Claim Within the Statute of Limitations

If you want to pursue legal action within the statute of limitations, immediately get in touch with a lawyer, who will attempt to secure your rights. It’s best to call them up as soon as possible after your accident. And if an insurance company calls you to work out a settlement, don’t accept it or tell them too many details about what happened in the accident, because they can and will use information against you, if they can, later on.

It’s always a good idea to reach out to a lawyer as soon as an incident occurs for a number of reasons. First, it’s going to be fresh in your mind. You’ll remember what happened more clearly and the information you provide your lawyer is going to be much more accurate. If you wait, you may not remember everything correctly, and the defendant and/or their insurance company could take advantage of that fact and try to blame the accident on you.

In addition, you’ll have a much better chance of collecting solid evidence for your case. Let’s say that when you got into a car crash, three nearby stores and a traffic camera recorded what happened. Stores and traffic camera operators may erase their footage within a few days, and then you won’t be able to use it to bolster your case. If you got phone numbers from witnesses and you wait to call them, their memory might be fuzzy and their testimonies won’t help you.

If you took photos of your injuries and the crash on your phone, they could accidentally get erased when you update your phone. But if you send them to a lawyer right away, you’ll have backed up copies of them via email.

If you suffered from an injury and waited to receive medical attention, the insurance company may claim that you got injured in a different way, and it wasn’t the defendant’s fault. But if you can show that you went to the hospital as soon as the accident occurred, and you have a medical record to prove that you got treatment, then your case will be that much stronger.

Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer

When you contact a personal injury lawyer, you’ll have to show them evidence of the accident and your injury. Provide them with your photographs, witness statements, videos, medical records, and any other proof you have. If you need help gathering evidence, they will be happy to provide that for you. For example, if you noticed there were cameras around but you don’t know how to get the footage, they can reach out to the companies that own the cameras to try to collect the footage. They can also get your medical records and bills and work with them to get your bills paid.

Your personal injury lawyer will conduct an initial consultation with you, ask for your evidence, gather any additional evidence, and negotiate with the defendant’s representatives. Typically, if a personal injury lawyer takes your case, they are confident they can work out a suitable settlement for you.  Getting attorneys experienced in the area that carry a good reputation as lawyers willing to go to trial on your behalf can be very important. 

Getting in Touch With Heiting & Irwin

If you got injured and you want to file a legal claim during the two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases, then it’s time to get in touch with the premiere personal injury firm of Heiting & Irwin. Contact us online or call us at 951-682-6400. We are standing by to help you.

The only past President of the State Bar of California ever elected from the Inland Empire, James Heiting handles civil litigation matters throughout California, recovering over $400 million for clients, dealing with wrongful death, serious injury, professional malpractice and transportation accidents. Also past President of Riverside’s County Bar, his firm has served the Inland Empire for over 30 years. View Attorney James Otto Heiting's Attorney Bio Here.

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