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How Long Do I Have To Make A Personal Injury Claim In California?

In a state as large and densely populated as California, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its courts are constantly inundated with criminal and civil matters. In fact, the total number of filings in the state’s superior courts topped 4.4 million for FY 2020-21. Of those, more than 636,000 were civil matters.

A closer look at the data reveals that the total number of civil filings included approximately 45,000 personal injury, property damage and wrongful death cases stemming from motor vehicle accidents. It also included more than 22,5000 personal injury, property damage and wrongful death cases stemming from other causes.

Given all of that, one important question remains. And it is one our clients frequently ask us at The Law Office Of Parag L. Amin, P.C. (LawPLA): How long do I have to make a personal injury claim in California? The simple answer is, it depends. Keep reading to learn more.

When to file a personal injury claim in Los Angeles

Before we talk about the deadlines for making personal injury claims in LA, we need to determine whether you have a viable case. The dedicated personal injury attorneys here at LawPLA make this determination based on:

  1. Information you provide during the intake process; and
  2. Any additional information obtained afterwards (if needed)

You can generally pursue legal recourse in a Los Angeles personal injury case if we find that:

  • Someone else was reckless or careless
  • His, her or its actions (or failure to take certain actions) caused the incident in question
  • You sustained physical and/or emotional injuries as a result

Some of the most common personal injury cases

As experienced civil litigators we represent clients in personal injury cases stemming from motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and product liability cases (defective products). We also represent clients injured in workplace accidents, construction accidents, and more.

Injuries can range from broken bones and lacerations to concussions, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and neck and spine injuries sometimes resulting in partial or total paralysis. Accident victims may also experience internal organ damage and/or internal bleeding.

Deadlines for filing California personal injury claims

As a general rule, you have two years from the date you got hurt to make a personal injury claim in California. But as we all know, there are always exceptions to the rules.

One exception is made when the injury isn’t readily apparent after the accident. In this situation, you have one year from the date the injury is discovered to make a claim.

Another exception is made if you want to make a personal injury claim against a government agency. Let’s say for example that you got hurt when you tripped and fell on a poorly maintained public sidewalk. In this scenario, you would pursue legal recourse against the state or municipal agency responsible for its upkeep. You would do so by making an administrative claim within six months of the accident.

Once the agency in question gets the claim, it has 45 days in which to respond. If your claim is denied, you should get an official written notice or “rejection letter.” If you receive one, you have six months from the date of mailing, or six months from the date of personal delivery to file a civil suit in court. If you do not get a rejection letter, the deadline for making a civil claim through the courts is two years from the date of the accident.

If you are seeking compensation for injuries incurred due to medical malpractice, there is yet another deadline for making personal injury claims in California. In this scenario, the deadline for filing a lawsuit is one year from the date you knew or should have known about the injury; or three years from the date of the injury, whichever date is earlier. Keep in mind, however, that you must give the doctor or healthcare provider 90 days notice of your intention to sue before you file a complaint in court.

Consult experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys today

There may be other circumstances where a deadline for making a personal injury claim in California changes, or when different deadlines apply. This is why it is imperative that you consult our knowledgeable personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. You can get in touch with us by using the contact form here on LawPLA’s website, or you can call one of our conveniently located LA offices to schedule an appointment. We’ll take it from there.


PLEASE NOTE: This is not a representation, warranty, or guarantee of a future result or outcome. Every case is different just like every one of our clients.