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How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After an Accident?

You probably wouldn’t expect to be hit by a car while doing your weekly grocery shopping inside a Los Angeles store. However, this is exactly the story that four Los Angeles people can now share with their friends and families. Earlier this month, a man backed his car into a Lomita grocery store and drove away. At least four people were injured in the Los Angeles hit and run accident. Police are still searching for the hit and run driver.

When you’re injured in an accident in Los Angeles and someone else is to blame, you have the right to file a lawsuit against that person. An unexpected accident can cause injuries that are extremely painful, emotionally training, and financially debilitating. The damages awarded because of a personal injury lawsuit can help to minimize these harms.

Statute of Limitations

Accident victims have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. However, California law limits the amount of time in which a claim can be filed. This time limit, known as the statute of limitations, helps to ensure that all legal matters are pursued within a reasonable amount of time after an accident.

The statute of limitations for bodily injury claims is two years. In other words, you have two years from the date of your Los Angeles accident to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. If you do not file a claim before the statute of limitations expires, you will not be able to recover the money you really need and deserve.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations imposed by California law will apply in most personal injury cases. However, there are certain times when extenuating circumstances or factors can allow you to extend the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. This is known as “tolling” the statute of limitations.

Tolling Factors

California law provides that if certain “tolling” factors are relevant to your case, the statute of limitations may be extended. Why would the state let you extend the statute of limitations? When these special factors are present, the state believes that it would be unfair to punish you for circumstances out of your control. However, you will have the burden of proving that one of the following tolling factors affects your ability to file a claim within the traditional statute of limitations.

Minor: Victims who are injured as children can have the statute of limitations tolled if they want to file a lawsuit for damages. In these cases, victims will generally have one year to file a lawsuit from the date they turn 18 years old. Any legal proceedings must be initiated within that year in order to lawfully recover damages.

Reasonable Delay: Sometimes accident-related injuries aren’t identified right away. You may be able to toll the statute of limitations if there is a reasonable delay is the discovery of an injury caused by your accident. You’ll generally have one year from the date you discover your injury to file a claim.

Defendant Missing: Police are still searching for the hit and run driver who injured four people in a Los Angeles grocery store. Those victims have the right to file a lawsuit for damages against the hit and run driver. What if police aren’t able to identify and/or capture the hit and run driver before the two-year statute of limitations expires? What if the driver is jailed and unable to defend himself in a civil lawsuit?

If the defendant in a civil matter is incarcerated or cannot be located, the statute of limitations can be tolled. In other words, the statute of limitations is put on hold until the “tolling factor” no longer prevents the plaintiff from filing a legal claim. This protects victims from being penalized for circumstances that are very much out of their control.

Statute of Limitations For Government Claims

In California, accident victims may have valid reasons to file a personal injury lawsuit against the government. For example, dangerous road conditions may contribute to or cause an accident. The government agency responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of that road can be on the hook for damages. The process for filing a lawsuit against the government is unique.

Claims against the government must be filed within 180 days, or 6 months, of an accident. Rather than filing a traditional claim in court, victims must submit this claim to the government agency itself. The agency then reviews the claim and decides whether or not it will accept liability for the accident. If the agency denies the claim, victims have an additional 6 months to file a lawsuit in court. If the agency fails to respond to the claim, victims have two years to file a lawsuit in court.

Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorneys

Have you recently been injured in a Los Angeles car accident? The best way to ensure that your claim is filed on time is by contacting an experienced attorney as soon as you can after your accident. Call the Los Angeles Accident Law Center for help today. Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers can help you file a lawsuit and maximized the compensation you deserve. We offer a free case evaluation, so do not hesitate to call us now.

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