The most common advice you might hear regarding what you should do after an accident is to file a report and a claim as soon as possible. While this is certainly a reliable guideline to abide by, it is not always possible. For example, suppose you were to sustain a rather extensive injury from a slip and fall accident. If this were to happen, it is unlikely that you would be treated with only one appointment.
Sometimes medical care extends over several weeks or months. Further, the property owner might drag their feet in resolving your case as well. In such instances, it is very critical to be aware of the legal timeline in which you have the right to file a lawsuit after your slip and fall accident. This timeframe is known as the “statute of limitations.”
What is California’s Statute of Limitations?
Every state across the United States enforces a statute of limitations, yet they all slightly differ in their imposed timelines. Personal injury cases must be filed within two years of the date of the incident in California. This countdown starts from the exact day of your slip and fall accident.
Note that this deadline is not determined by the time at which you learned you were injured. Unfortunately, if you discovered your injury two months after the fall, those two months cannot be added to the time allowed by the statute for the litigation process. Thus, it is imperative that you visit a doctor immediately after your fall to verify any injuries or lack thereof.
Anyone who fails to open their case within the provided two years effectively forfeits their right to sue the individual responsible for their fall, and thus, their right to compensation. Note that the statute is significantly shorter if you are suing a government body. In this case, you would need to file a claim within six months. Still, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations that you must be aware of.
Exceptions to California’s Statute of Limitations
Not all slip and fall victims in California will be held to the same two-year window. The following are possible causes for exemption:
- Delayed symptoms. Although you cannot backdate the statute of limitations for most injuries, there may be exceptions for conditions that manifest after the timeframe expires.
- Mental incapacity. If the victim is mentally incapable of filing a lawsuit within the two years, they can pause the statute of limitations until they recover psychologically.
- The victim is less than 18 years old. Minors that experience a slip and fall accident can wait until their 18th birthday to start their statute of limitations.
- Out-of-state travel. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident and left the state soon after, your timeline may not begin until you return to California.
The statute of limitations is a highly important element of the litigation process to be aware of. Check in with your lawyer frequently as your case progresses to ensure that your case is resolved within the appropriate time.