How long after an injury is suffered can you sue for reimbursement of medical bills in small claims court?

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How long after an injury is suffered can you sue for reimbursement of medical bills in small claims court?

Last year during a retreat I was injured by someone and was rushed to the ER. Obviously I was billed. This was 10 months ago. But it was not until last month that I found out that I was charged with $440. The hospital even transferred it to a credit network. So now I am under this debt. I messaged the person that caused the injury and explained it nicely but he basically told me he cannot help because he is making ends barely meet. Can I still file a small claims matter?

Asked on August 18, 2011 California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The organization that sponsored the retreat should have insurance.  The location where the retreat was held and where your injury occurred such as a hotel, etc., should have insurance.  You can file your personal injury claim with their insurance companies.  You should obtain all of your medical bills from the injury and medical reports, and if applicable, documentation of any wage loss.  Your personal injury claim should include these items.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine the amount of compensation you receive for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance company (companies), you can reject the settlement offers and file your lawsuit for negligence against the sponsor of the retreat, location where the accident occurred such as a hotel, etc. and the person who injured you.  You only file one lawsuit naming all of these defendants.  You will need to file your lawsuit against any or all defendants with whom the case has not been settled prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.  In CA, there is a two year statute of limitations in personal injury cases which means that the lawsuit must be filed prior to the two year anniversary of the accident.  It would NOT be advisable to file in Small Claims Court because the maximum amount recoverable in Small Claims Court might not be sufficient to compensate you for pain and suffering.  Depending on the amount you are claiming for pain and suffering, you might want to file your lawsuit for negligence in Municipal or possibly Superior Court.

 


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