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Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Past the Statute of Limitations?

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A statute of limitations is the deadline you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Most lawsuits must be filed within this amount of time in order to be pursued. In general, if you do not do so, your legal claim is considered no longer valid. 

For most personal injury cases, you have 2 years from the time you were injured to file a lawsuit, unless the injury was not discovered right away. If this is the case, then you have 1 year from the date your injury was discovered to file. 

Today, we go over when you may be able to file a lawsuit past the statute of limitations due to special circumstances. 

Under Special Circumstances You May Be Able to File a Lawsuit After the Statute of Limitations Has Passed

You may be able to toll or suspend the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit in California under the following circumstances: 

The Discovery Rule 

In California and other states, there is what is known as the "discovery rule" also known as the "delayed-discovery rule". This rule suspends the statute of limitations so that the clock will not start ticking until the individual knows that he/she is injured. It is important to note that even when this rule applies to your case, there may still be another deadline put in place that you will need to adhere to, which is your responsibility. 

Injured Minors

For plaintiffs who were injured when they were minors, most states allow these individuals to reach the age of 18 before the statute of limitations starts. Therefore, if you were injured in a car accident at the age of 16, you have until your 20th birthday to file a lawsuit. Since you have up to 2 years to file after you turn 18, you would not need to do so until age 20. 

Out of State

The statute of limitations may be tolled or suspended if the defendant is out of town or currently residing in another state. It would be beneficial to speak to a lawyer about this option as this is only allowed under rare circumstances. 


If the defendant could not file a lawsuit as he/she was in prison for the duration of the statute of limitations, this may also be an option to toll this deadline. 

Mentally Insane 

Additionally, if the defendant is found mentally insane, the statute of limitations could be suspended until he/she is found to be sane again. 

Filing a Lawsuit Against a Government Agency 

It is important to note that if you are filing a lawsuit against a government agency, your statute of limitation is even less than 2 years. You must file a claim with the agency within 6 months (for some cases, 1 year) of the accident. After you file your claim, the government has 45 days to respond. If the government agency denies your claim within 45 days, you have 6 months to file a lawsuit in court from date the denial was mailed or personally delivered to you.  If you do not get a rejection letter, you have 2 years to file from the day the accident happened. 

If the claim is denied, you can then file your lawsuit in court but there are strict limits, so it is advisable to consult with a lawyer. 

For additional assistance filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact our office online or call us at (916) 778-3228.

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