If you have been physically harmed by the negligence of another party, you are entitled to compensation. However, you may not have a lot of time to file your legal claim. California’s statute of limitations establishes a strict deadline for when an injured party can file a legal claim.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitation is a prescriptive period during which a legal claim can be filed by a plaintiff successfully in court. If a plaintiff waits too long to file a claim, the court can immediately dismiss the lawsuit regardless of how good the evidence presented by the plaintiff is or how bad they have been hurt by the defendant’s negligent actions.
California’s Statute of Limitations on Slip and Fall Cases
According to Section 335.1 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff cannot file a claim after two years of suffering an injury due to the wrongful act or neglect of another party. Slip and fall cases come under the purview of this two-year deadline. Though the plaintiff does not have to resolve the claim within the prescribed period, they must initiate the legal proceedings. While the two-year deadline seems quite straightforward, there may exist some exceptions to it.
Under the statute of limitations in California, the two-year only applies to cases with private defendants. The deadline is shorter for filing a public slip and fall lawsuit. If the claim is against government-controlled areas like official buildings, parks, and schools, the plaintiff will have six months to file a claim. If the claim gets rejected, the plaintiff will have another six months to take action again.
The plaintiff may have a small window to take action under the ‘Discovery of Harm’ rule even if the statute of limitations has run out. According to this rule, the ‘clock’ does not begin to run until the victim discovers the harm or becomes aware of negligence and malpractice by another party. In most cases, the date of discovery and the date of the accident is the same. Similarly, if the victim is under the age of 18, the California law tolls the statute of limitations until two years after the plaintiff turns 18.
While most slip and fall cases end up in settlements rather than proceeding to a trial, this should not keep you from taking action immediately. The pressure on a defendant evaporates once the statute of limitations has run out. After the deadline has passed, the defendant can refuse tosettle, and you will not be able to resort to the threat of filing a claim.
If you fail to take action within the prescribed period, you’ll lose your rights and consequently the ability to claim compensation from the negligent party. Therefore, you must hire a slip and fall lawyer immediately after an injury occurs or when you become aware of it. It is crucial for you to file a premises liability lawsuit on time in order to retain your ability to seek financial recovery.