Skip to content

How Long Do You Have to Sue Someone for Personal Injury in California?

personal injury lawyer

Suffering a personal injury can be a life-altering experience, and if it occurs due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, you have the right to seek compensation for your damages.

However, it’s crucial to understand that there are specific time limitations, known as the statute of limitations, within which you must file a personal injury lawsuit.

In this article, we will explore the timeframe for filing a personal injury claim in California and emphasize the importance of seeking the assistance of a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to navigate this process effectively.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in California

In California, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury or accident.

This time limit is outlined in the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1.

However, there are some exceptions and variations depending on the circumstances of the case.

If the injury was not discovered right away, then it is one year from the date the injury was found.

This means that you have two years from the incident to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries and associated damages.

However, it’s important to consult with a qualified personal injury lawyer to ensure that you are adhering to the appropriate timeline, as exceptions may apply based on the circumstances of your case.

Exceptions to the Two-Year Limitation

Government Claims

If your personal injury claim involves a government entity or public agency, you must file a formal claim within six months from the date of the incident.

Failing to file a claim within this timeframe may result in a loss of your right to seek compensation.

Medical Malpractice

For personal injury claims related to medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is generally three years from the date of the injury or one year from the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered, whichever comes first.


If the injured party is a minor (under the age of 18), the statute of limitations is tolled or paused until the individual reaches the age of 18.

They typically have two years from their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Importance of Complying with the Statute of Limitations

Preserving Your Rights

Failing to file a personal injury lawsuit within the prescribed timeframe may result in the court dismissing your case, barring you from seeking compensation for your injuries.

It’s important to act promptly to protect your legal rights.

Gathering Evidence

Over time, evidence can become harder to collect or may be lost altogether.

Acting within the statute of limitations allows for a more efficient gathering of evidence to support your case.

Witness Recollection

Witness testimony is often vital in personal injury cases.

The longer you wait to file a lawsuit, the greater the chance of witnesses forgetting important details or becoming unavailable, which can weaken your case.

Legal Strategy and Preparation

Building a strong personal injury case takes time.

Initiating the legal process within the statute of limitations provides ample time for investigation, negotiation, and preparation for trial, if necessary.

Read this interesting post 👉 What is the difference between maritime law and common law?

Importance of Engaging a Personal Injury Lawyer

Navigating the legal complexities of a personal injury claim can be overwhelming, especially while dealing with physical and emotional recovery.

Engaging the services of an experienced lawyer can greatly benefit your case in the following ways:

Knowledge and Expertise

A lawyer specializes in this area of law and possesses a deep understanding of the legal framework and intricacies surrounding personal injury claims.

Their knowledge and expertise can guide you through the complex legal process.

Preservation of Evidence

Evidence plays a critical role in personal injury cases.

A skilled lawyer will ensure that all relevant evidence, such as medical records, accident reports, and witness statements, is promptly gathered and preserved to strengthen your case.

Assessment of Damages

Determining the extent of your damages can be challenging, especially when accounting for future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

A personal injury lawyer will help evaluate the full scope of your damages to ensure you seek appropriate compensation.

Negotiation and Settlement

An experienced lawyer will skillfully negotiate with insurance companies and opposing parties on your behalf.

They will work to secure a fair settlement that reflects the true value of your claim.

Litigation Representation

In the event that a fair settlement cannot be reached, an experienced lawyer will be prepared to take your case to court.

They will advocate for your rights, present your case effectively, and fight for the compensation you deserve.


Understanding the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in California is crucial when seeking justice for your injuries.

With a general two-year timeframe for filing a lawsuit, it’s essential to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you meet the necessary deadlines.

By engaging a knowledgeable legal professional, you can navigate the complexities of your case, preserve evidence, assess damages accurately, and increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation.

A personal injury lawyer is your advocate throughout the process, providing valuable guidance and fighting for your rights as you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.

Remember, this post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You cannot copy the content of this page.