Statute of Limitations for a PI Case

Statute of Limitations for a PI Case

April 12, 2023

Sometimes, things happen when we least expect them to happen, including being injured or otherwise harmed due to someone else’s negligence. From motor vehicle accidents and animal bites to medical malpractice and wrongful death, many personal injury cases are being fought in court or settled out of court each year in the U.S. To get an idea of how many, we need only look at a study published by the U.S. Department of Justice. It revealed Americans are filing some 400,000 personal injury claims annually, with 4% of them going to trial and the balance settled out of court.

The Definition of a Personal Injury Compensation Claim

Almost everyone has heard the term personal injury at one time or another, but from a legal perspective, only a few know what it means. And fewer know when it makes sense to take a personal injury compensation claim to trial and when it makes more sense to settle out of court. That decision, by the way, is not one to take lightly. In the U.S., anyone who has suffered an injury due to another’s negligence can file a compensation claim to help them pay for expenses related to their injury. Whether it leads to settlement negotiations or marks the beginning of a lawsuit, the end goal when it comes to filing such a claim is to receive compensatory damages sufficient enough to pay for one or more of the following:

  • Emotional distress
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Property loss
  • Reduced or loss of income due to the inability to work

The Most Common Injury Compensation Claim Filed in the U.S.

Personal injury claims come in many forms, but the ones involving motor vehicle accidents are the ones that are tried and settled the most in the U.S. Available data shows traffic accidents account for an estimated 52% of all personal injury cases. To be clear, these are cases that comprise two or more vehicles crashing into one another or a motor vehicle hitting a pedestrian. Accidents involving Uber and Lyft also fall under that umbrella. In addition to those involving motor vehicle accidents, the following are some of the many other compensation claims commonly filed in the U.S. based on percentage:

  • Other claims, such as slip and fall, wrongful death, and dog bites – 28%
  • Medical malpractice, such as surgical errors, misdiagnosis, and improper prescription – 15%
  • Product liability – 5%

Discovery and Settlement Negotiations

Generally speaking, moving forward with a lawsuit is a last resort for most compensation claims. Lawyers on both sides would prefer to settle these cases than go through a complex court battle that could drag on for weeks or even months. Even if a case never goes to trial, most attorneys who handle compensation claim cases prepare them with the expectation that they will go to trial. And this means each side has to prepare what is known as discovery, which refers to information the plaintiff has that proves the defendant is liable for their injury and information from the defendant that refutes the allegation. Discovery can include any of the following:

  • Depositions
  • E-discovery
  • Interrogatories
  • Requests for admissions
  • Requests for inspection
  • Requesting the production of documents

After discovery, lawyers on both sides will engage in settlement negotiations, carefully weighing the plaintiff’s medical and other expenses, and, if all goes according to plan, come up with a settlement amount they both agree on.

What Are the Odds of Winning and Receiving Damages if an Injury Compensation Claim Goes to Trial?

The odds of winning and ultimately receiving compensatory damages should a compensation claim go to trial depends on the nature of the injury and what caused it. In addition to being the most common compensation claim filed and settled in the U.S., injury compensation claims involving motor vehicles are the ones plaintiffs tend to win the most when they go to trial. And this is substantiated in a study published by the U.S. Department of Justice. With a 61% success rate, the study notes compensation claims involving motor vehicle accidents are more likely to favor the plaintiff. For other compensation claims, the success rate is as follows:

  • Intentional tort trials – 50%
  • Premises liability trials – 39%
  • Product liability trials – 38%
  • Medical malpractice trials – 19%

The Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Case in California

California is no different than any other state; there is a statute of limitations for filing an injury compensation claim against a negligent party. So that everyone is on the same page, a statute of limitations refers to the length of time someone has to file a lawsuit against a defendant. And for an injury compensation claim in California, that’s two years. If the injured party or plaintiff fails to file a claim before the statute of limitations is up, they forfeit their rights to file a personal injury case in civil court.

Can an Injury Compensation Claim Ever Be Filed After the Deadline?

In California, barring only a handful of exceptions, a court will dismiss with prejudice almost any injury compensation claim filed after the statute of limitations has run out. And this is irrespective of how strong of a case an individual might have had or how much they might have received in damages if they were to win. Some of the instances in which a judge or court might extend the statute of limitations in an injury compensation claim instead of dismissing it would be if the case met any of the following criteria:

  • If the defendant fraudulently evaded service
  • If the defendant was out of the country when the statute of limitations ran out
  • If the plaintiff is a minor
  • If the plaintiff was not mentally competent at the time of the accident

How California Courts Dismiss Injury Compensation Claims Filed After the Deadline

The dismissal of an injury compensation claim filed after the statute of limitations has run out generally happens in one of two ways. After the plaintiff or their attorney files a claim, the court notices the accident date is not within the two-year statute of limitations window and dismisses it accordingly. Alternatively, the defendant might file a motion to dismiss the case, pointing to the fact that it violates the statute of limitations. Either way, the plaintiff will no longer have the option to pursue a personal injury case, which means they will be responsible for covering any expenses resulting from their injury, including medical bills.

In summary, things have a knack for happening when we least expect them to, and they are not always pleasant. Such is the case when it comes to injuries caused by the negligent acts of another. Fortunately, there are legal avenues we can pursue to make sure those individuals are held accountable and that we receive the financial compensation necessary to be made whole again. That said, feel free to schedule a consultation with the Avian Law Group if you have been injured and have questions about filing an injury compensation claim.

Posted by

Michael Avanesian

Michael Avanesian, the founder and driving force behind Avian Law Group, is a passionate and dedicated attorney with a strong background in personal injury law. As a partner at JT Legal Group, Michael led the growth of the personal injury practice from a single employee to a team of over ninety professionals, securing over $2 billion in settlements for clients in just three years.

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