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Personal Injury: Beware the Statute of Limitations

If you are interested in filing a personal injury claim for an injury, accident, or illness that you have suffered at the hands of another, you need to be aware of the statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations is essentially the amount of time you have to file your claim. This amount of time could be months, or years, depending on the type of claim and the state in which you are filing.

Why Does the Statute of Limitations Exist?

The purpose of the statute of limitations is to protect the defendant from being prosecuted for long-dormant claims, whether they are guilty or not. The belief is that, if the plaintiff has good cause, then he should pursue the case within a timely manner. As a result, most legal issues (both criminal and civil) have a maximum timeframe within which the plaintiff can act. Murder is one of the few crimes that does not have a statute of limitations.

How Statutes of Limitations Work

As we have stated before, the exact length of the statute of limitations varies by state and by claim. It can also depend on whether or not the defendant is a government agency.

Using California as an example, a personal injury claim against an individual or private company is two years from the date of the injury. However, if an event occurs, but you do not discover the injury or illness until later, then you have one year from the date you discover the illness.

  • For example, let’s say you worked for a California factory that used asbestos, and you developed mesothelioma three years after the factory shut down. Because you discovered the disease years after you were exposed, by California law you could have only one year from the date of diagnosis to start a case.

However, a personal injury lawyer might be able to get the statute of limitations suspended (or tolled) based on the circumstances of your illness.

The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim against a government entity is different. In these cases you only have six months to file.

For example, if you are injured in an accident caused by a police chase on the San Diego Freeway, you only have six months to file a claim against the San Diego Police Department or California State Highway Patrol.

As with the private individual or company, if you are unable to file due to extenuating circumstances, such as being in a coma for several months, you could ask to have the statute of limitations suspended.

However, suspending the statute of limitations is a difficult process, and one best left to an attorney. Your best bet would be to find a personal injury attorney in San Diego who is more familiar with local politics and other issues.

Regardless of where you are filing your personal injury claim, or whether the defendant is a private interest or government, you need to be aware of the statutes of limitations surrounding your claim. Otherwise you won’t be able to get the justice you seek.

This article was written by Jenna Brown. Jenna is a freelance writer who has been blogging on random topics from law to business since her days in college, feel free to e-mail her if you would ever like to have her write for you!

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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