All states have deadlines, known as “statutes of limitations,” for filing certain types of lawsuits in court. The statute of limitations that applies depends on the type of case being filed. However, all statutes of limitations have one thing in common: once they expire, the case cannot be brought to court.

In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. In other words, an injured person has two years to file their claim in court. While the case can be filed at any time in this two-year period, it must be filed before the two years expires. If it is not, the court will likely refuse to hear the case at any time, which prevents you from accessing the courts in order to seek compensation for your losses.

Typically, this two-year time period begins to run on the date the injury occurs. For instance, if you were in a car accident on January 1, 2016 and broke your leg, you would have until January 1, 2018 to file your claim in court in most instances. (Certain factors can “toll,” or stop, the two-year period from running, so talk to an attorney in order to understand the precise date the statute of limitations expires on your case.)

Claims against a city, county, or state government agency in California are subject to a different time limit. In these cases, you have six months to file a claim. There are also specific rules for how this claim must be filed with the government agency in question.

If you’ve been injured in California, don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you understand how the statute of limitations applies to your case and, if necessary, file your lawsuit in court before the deadline expires.