What is a Statute of Limitations?

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What is a Statute of Limitations?

One topic many clients have questions about is something called the ‘statute of limitations’.  The phrase is most widely known in relation to criminal offenses.  TV shows such as Law and Order or Cold Case may discuss statutes of limitations regarding whether or not an old crime is possible to prosecute.  The phrase has also been in the news recently regarding the prosecution of film mogul Harvey Weinstein and pursing abuse claims against the Catholic church.  Statutes of limitations, however, apply to more than just criminal cases.

Statutes also apply to personal injury and workers’ compensation cases.  Briefly explained, a statute of limitations is the time frame in which you must begin the legal process after any specific incident, such as a car accident.  Most car accidents in California have a statute of limitations of two years, so if your car is rear-ended by another car today, March 3rd, 2020, the last day you can file a lawsuit pursuing damages for your injuries is March 3rd, 2022.  However, if your car was struck by a police car or any other government-owned vehicle, you’d only have six months, pushing that deadline up to September 3rd, 2020.  Missing a statute deadline means you can no longer pursue damages related to the 2020 car accident and you would be responsible for any medical bills or vehicle repairs incurred after the crash.

The idea behind a statute of limitations for a workers’ compensation claim is slightly different, as no litigation is undertaken in work injuries.  Instead, injured workers have up to one year to file a workers’ compensation claim with their employer.  Failing to report your injury and file a claim can result in losing any right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

In both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims, waiting until the last minute to pursue litigation is extremely ill-advised.  In both types of cases, it’s important to contact an experienced injury law firm as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.  Insurance companies have been known to deny claims just before the statute of limitations expires, leaving injury victims unable to collect any damages or benefits and with little recourse to do so.  When an attorney is involved, insurance companies are much more inclined to pursue a reasonable settlement offer rather than face potentially costly litigation.  Your attorney will be aware of any statute of limitations and will ensure that all legal actions necessary will be handled in a timely manner, but car accident lawyers will typically reach settlements with insurance companies well before the statute of limitations.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident or have experienced an injury on the job, the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth can ensure that your rights under the law are protected.  We offer free consultations and offer a risk-free service: if we don’t win your injury case you will owe us nothing.  Call us today at 888-517-9888 and speak with an injury expert!

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