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How Long After a Slip and Fall Can You Sue?

Posted on August 10, 2021 in Slip and Fall Accidents

If you wish to seek financial compensation for a slip and fall accident in California, you must act quickly – before you miss the deadline. Waiting too long puts you at risk of missing the time limit and losing the right to sue a property owner or another party. The best way to protect your legal rights is by consulting with a Los Angeles slip and fall attorney as soon as possible after an accident.

Why Do States Have Time Limits to File Civil Suits?

The law in place in California that restricts your time to file a civil lawsuit is called the statute of limitations. All 50 states have statutes of limitations on both civil and criminal cases. The purpose of a legal deadline in the civil system is to encourage people to come forward with their legal matters as quickly and efficiently as possible. Deadlines keep the civil justice system more efficient.

Statutes of limitations move things along and help prevent courthouses from getting too backed up with older cases. They also help keep the justice system just by pushing plaintiffs to file while key evidence is still available, such as while the memory of an accident is still fresh in an eyewitness’s mind. Without a deadline, a plaintiff in a personal injury case could wait until important evidence is destroyed to sue a defendant.

Lawmakers recognize that it takes time for insurance companies to investigate accidents and assess claims. They take this into account when creating statutes of limitations in each state. Most statutes of limitations give victims a couple of years to gather information about their accidents and file the required paperwork with the civil courts.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Slip and Fall Case in California?

In California, you have two years from the date of your slip and fall accident to bring a civil lawsuit, in most cases. In general, if you don’t file your lawsuit within two years of the slip and fall accident, you will give up the right to seek financial recovery. This is why it is important to understand your allotted time frame to file a slip and fall lawsuit in your state.

Exceptions to the Rule

In the majority of cases, the courts in California will not hear a case that is filed after the deadline has passed. Even if the courts permit your claim to proceed, the defendant you are attempting to hold liable can use the expired statute of limitations as a defense to liability. There are exceptions to the rule, however, that could change the two-year window – either by “tolling” (pausing) or shortening the deadline.

  • There is a delayed discovery of injuries. Something known as the discovery rule allows you to pause the statute of limitations until the date that you discover your injuries. If you don’t realize that you hurt your back in a slip and fall accident until two days later, for example, the two-year timeclock would not begin until the date of injury discovery.
  • The victim is a minor under the age of 18. If the injured victim is under the age of 18, California law typically tolls the personal injury statute of limitations until two years after the victim turns 18.
  • The defendant is a government entity. If you’re attempting to bring a claim against a government agency, such as the City of Los Angeles for a slip and fall accident on public property, you will only have six months to file your initial claim with the agency responsible.

Statutes of limitations can be confusing on personal injury lawsuits in California. The best way to make sure that you meet your deadline and preserve your right to sue for a slip and fall injury is by contacting an attorney right away to arrange a free consultation. If you have grounds to file a premises liability lawsuit, your lawyer can immediately go to work on your claim to make sure that your paperwork is filed by California’s deadline.