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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

Tolling Statute of Limitations - California Deadlines for Personal Injury Claims

Whenever victims in California decide to file a legal claim against another party who has caused them injury, one of the most important things they have to consider is the statute of limitations period. Even with a strong case built on solid evidence of the wrongful act, missing the statute of limitations deadline can result in the entire lawsuit being thrown out of court.


As such, a good lawyer will always remind their client of the importance of filing a lawsuit soon after the statute of limitations begins. Whether they are dealing with a personal injury case over a small incident or a very serious medical malpractice lawsuit, it is important for victims to always keep one eye on the clock.


However, there are certain cases in which the statute of limitations can be extended or "tolled." This is where having a good attorney becomes crucial. In Sacramento, California, Goss Law has been fighting for the rights of victims in personal injury cases for many years now. The law firm knows better than most the importance of the statute of limitations and is ready to help. They can also provide more information on a felony statute of limitations California.


What Is a Statute of Limitations?

What Is a Statute of Limitations?


The simplest definition of a statute of limitations is that it is the deadline by which a California claim or lawsuit must be filed with the relevant court. Once the statute of limitations expires, the victim will no longer be able to pursue damages against the defendant according to the California civil jury instructions under the civil procedure section 335.1.


Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

In most cases, for personal injury cases, the statute of limitations period begins to run on the day the personal injury or negligent act occurs and expires exactly two years later. Some examples of cases with this statute of limitations are:


  • Automobile accidents

  • Product liability claims

  • Slip and fall accidents

  • Dog bites


However, not all civil lawsuits have the same statute of limitations period. The following are some other types of legal disputes that have different statutes of limitations:


  • Claims against government agencies - Claim must be filed within six months (or one year in some cases) of the incident

  • Property damage - Three years from the date the damage occurred

  • Breach of an oral contract - Two years from the date the contract was broken

  • Breach of a written contract - Four years from the date the contract was broken

  • Damage to personal property - Three years from the date the property damage occurred


Four Cases in Which the Statute of Limitations Can Be Tolled


There are certain cases in which the circumstances will allow the victim more time to file their claims at a much later date than is normally the case. This is called tolling.


When it comes to tolling statute of limitations, California laws allow an extension of the deadline to be applied in cases in which the victim is:


  • A minor

  • Incapacitated

  • Legally insane

  • In prison


Once the condition that activated the tolling period ends, the normal statute of limitations begins to run. Extending the statute of limitations in this way is known as equitable tolling and the victim will only be granted the extra time they need if they establish the following doctrines:


  • Reasonable and good faith conduct

  • Lack of prejudice to the defendant

  • Provide timely notice to the defendant


As such, whether the case is dealing with medical malpractice, a workers' compensation claim, personal property damage, or a lawsuit over emotional distress, equitable tolling can be applied in certain circumstances to give the victim more time to file a claim.


Can a Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Be Tolled?


In most cases, California laws apply a strict two-year statute of limitations period on all wrongful death cases. However, on rare occasions, certain circumstances can allow the courts to extend this period.


A good example is when the discovery rule is applied. In this case, the plaintiff must show that they had no opportunity to learn about the death of their loved one until later.


Here, the court may allow the statute of limitations to start running from the date on which the death was discovered by close family members.


Death due to medical malpractice is also another situation that complicates a wrongful death claim. If there are circumstances of fraud or concealment surrounding the death of a loved one, the court may extend the deadline for filing to three years.


On the other hand, some situations may actually shrink the deadline, such as when filing a wrongful death lawsuit against a California government agency.


Here, the victims will only have six months to file their claim, unlike the two years they would have had if their loved one had died from, for example, an ordinary car accident. For more information, criminal defense attorney Blair Goss may be able to help.


Emergency Rule 9


The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a lot of changes in how civil cases were handled during that period of widespread restrictions.


As such, several legal remedies were applied in California that affected how statutes of limitations and equitable tolling were handled.


The emergency rule 9 is one such example. Furthermore, the California State Judicial Council adopted this legal remedy on April 6, 2020, to allow all statutes of limitations on civil lawsuits to be suspended until 90 days after the Governor lifted the extension on February 28, 2023.


Such an intervention was necessary to prevent cases of legal malpractice or victims missing their deadlines because of travel restrictions.


What to Do After Being Injured in an Accident

What to Do After Being Injured in an Accident


After being injured in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, victims must take the following steps to ensure that they have the best chance of receiving fair compensation:


  • Seek medical attention

  • Gather evidence

  • Retain medical records and receipts of bills

  • Contact a good personal injury attorney


Goss Law - One of the Top Personal Injury Law Firms in Sacramento


Missing out on a massive settlement because the statute of limitations has expired is not something an experienced lawyer would ever allow to happen to their client.


As such, victims need to hire proper legal representation whether they think a tolling period can be applied to their cases or they are not sure when the statutes of limitations will expire.


Goss Law is one of the top-rated law firms in Sacramento, CA, and is ready to take on the case.

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