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Is It too Late to File a Lawsuit?

Anyone considering filing a civil claim against another party to pursue compensation needs to make sure their claim meets the applicable statute of limitations or time limit for taking legal action. Every state upholds statutes of limitations for different types of claims. To learn more about personal injury claims in California, speak to a personal injury attorney in San Jose.

Determining the Statute of Limitations for Your Claim

Generally, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is two to four years. The date the injury occurred would be the starting date. Some states uphold separate statutes of limitations for different types of claims. Examples include medical malpractice claims, product liability claims, and toxic torts. Additionally, the exact statute of limitations for a particular claim can fluctuate based on several factors. Some states will “toll” or delay the statute of limitations’ start date based on several possible factors.

The “Date of Discovery”

Some injuries do not immediately manifest symptoms. In other cases, the effects of negligence may take time to show noticeable harm. In these cases, the statute of limitations would start on the date the victim discovered the harm, or the date he or she should have discovered the harm with reasonable diligence.

The Age of the Claimant

Most states do not allow minors to file lawsuits for personal injuries until they reach the age of majority. If a parent or guardian cannot or does not take legal action on behalf of a minor, then the minor’s statute of limitations for taking legal action on his or her own behalf would likely begin on his or her 18th

Absolute Statutes

Some states uphold absolute statutes that prevent a claimant from taking legal action, despite the fact that the harm in question did not immediately manifest. For example, some states may place a ten-year absolute statute on medical malpractice claims. This means a victim has ten years from the date the harm occurred to take legal action for medical malpractice, regardless of when he or she discovered the harm.

The Behavior of the Defendant

Most states will toll or delay the statute of limitations if the defendant flees the state, conceals his or her identity, or engages in any type of fraud to prevent the discovery of his or her negligence.

The Type of Defendant in the Case

If an injured claimant intends to take legal action against another private individual or company, then his or her claim would fall under the typical statute of limitations for that type of claim. However, if the defendant is a government entity or agency, the statute of limitations will likely be much shorter. For example, if the usual statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years against a private defendant, it could be as short as six months against a public office or government entity.

Handling the Statute of Limitations for Your Claim

If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to another party’s negligence or intentional harmful action, then working quickly is the best way to ensure your claim meets the statute of limitations. It is important to remember that acting too quickly may inadvertently harm a plaintiff’s chance of recovery. For example, if a plaintiff settles relatively quickly with a defendant after suffering an injury and signs a release of liability upon accepting the settlement offer, the plaintiff could not take additional legal action later if he or she discovers additional damages resulting from the same event.

An attorney is one of the best possible resources for more information about how the statute of limitations applies to your claim. Contact a San Jose injury lawyer with experience in cases similar to yours and schedule a consultation to determine the best course of action.