Every state has its own rules when it comes to filing civil lawsuits. One of the most important of these laws is the statute of limitations. This is a law that outlines how long a person has to file a suit against a defendant. Orange County personal injury lawyers understand how critical it is that you file your lawsuit on time. If you don’t, the courts will dismiss your case and you won’t get another chance to sue.
This is why we recommend that people meet with an attorney sooner rather than later. The longer you wait to hire an attorney, the harder it will be for them to meet the statutory deadline. If you’re coming close to the end of your two (2) year statute period, you need to act quickly, or you’ll lose your chance to take legal action.
The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in California is Two Years
California, like most states, has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury. This means that you have 2 years from the date of your accident to file a suit. The courts are really strict with this deadline. It starts on the day of your accident and ends 2 years later. The judges rarely give extensions.
There are a few situations where the 2 years don’t start right away. If the victim is a minor, the 2 years won’t start until they turn 18. The same is true if the victim is not mentally competent to file suit. The 2 years won’t start until they are declared mentally competent. These cases are rare.
Usually, if a minor is hurt in an accident, their parents will file suit on their behalf. For mentally incompetent individuals, there is usually a guardian who can file legal action on their behalf. If either of these situations applies to your case, make sure to let your Orange County personal injury lawyer know right away.
What Happens If You Miss the Deadline?
If you miss the statute of limitations period in California, your case will be dismissed. The court doesn’t want to hear about how you didn’t know you had a deadline to follow. They don’t care that you didn’t have the money to file your suit. If you don’t file in 2 years, your case will be dismissed.
It will be dismissed with prejudice which means you won’t be able to file ever again. It doesn’t matter how strong your case was or how much you should’ve received in damages – if you miss the deadline, your case is dead in the water. There’s nothing an Orange County personal injury lawyer.
The Court Makes Very Few Exceptions to this Rule
As mentioned above, there are a few cases in which the court will extend the statute of limitations. These are very few and far between. The judges review these on a case-by-case basis. Some of the situations that qualify for an exception include the following:
- The plaintiff is a minor
- The victim was not mentally competent at the time of the accident
- The defendant was evading service out of fraud
- The defendant was out of the country
There are other small instances in which the court may make an exception. However, you don’t want to count on this happening. They’re more likely to dismiss your case and prohibit you from filing ever again.
There’s a Good Chance Your Case Will Be Dismissed
There are two major ways that your personal injury case in California will be dismissed. Either your Orange County personal injury lawyer files suit on your behalf and the court dismisses it on their own. They may notice that the accident happened more than two years prior. Or you file suit, and the defendant files a motion to dismiss based on a violation of the statute of limitations. If this is the case, the judge won’t have a choice. If you’ve gone past the 2 years period, the case will be dismissed.
Call and Meet with an Experienced Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to damages. However, you only have 2 years to file suit. If you go beyond this period, the judge is going to dismiss your case. There’s nothing your Orange County personal injury lawyer can do at this point. That’s why it’s important that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. They’ll make sure your lawsuit is filed with plenty of time to spare. Call today and schedule your free, initial consultation.