If you suffered injuries from a car accident, you should immediately seek medical attention. Once you receive medical treatment, you may wish to file a lawsuit to cover the cost of your injuries, lost wages, and any other associated costs.
Under California law, parties who want to file a lawsuit following a car accident must do so within a specified period.
You must meet these timing requirements, or you risk losing your right to take legal action. If you or someone you know would like to file a legal claim related to an automobile accident, you should speak to a qualified car accident lawyer to determine when you need to file your lawsuit.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident in California?
Statutes of Limitations are laws that set time requirements for when a party must file their claim with a court. Under California’s Code of Civil Procedure, parties who wish to pursue an auto accident claim must file within two years of the date of the accident.
Although two years sounds like a long time, filing a car accident claim can be complicated and time-consuming. You will need to investigate your accident and gather police reports, medical records, and any other information relevant to your case.
Collecting this information may prove challenging and could affect your ability to file a claim on time.
How Do I Calculate the Statute of Limitations?
Calculating the California car accident statute of limitations depends on the type of injury or harm and the types of damages you are seeking.
For auto claims seeking monetary damages for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful conduct, the party seeking damages has two years from the date of the accident to file the claim.
Car Accidents Resulting in Death
If a car accident results in the death of a driver or passenger, a plaintiff may have grounds for a wrongful death claim in addition to a personal injury claim.
California calculates the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims differently than for accidents where no death occurs. If the auto accident resulted in death, the statute of limitations clock begins running from the date of the death.
If filing a personal injury claim, the statute of limitations will begin to run from the date of the accident. But the statute of limitations for the separate wrongful death claim will not begin to run until the date of the victim’s death even if the car accident victim dies much later than the date of the accident.
Lawsuits for Property Damages
If you did not suffer any injuries in a car accident and you only wish to file a claim for damages to your vehicle, you will have more time to file your claim. Parties filing a lawsuit for property damages related to a car accident have three years from the date of the accident to file their claim.
What If I Try to File After the Statute of Limitations Has Passed?
If you attempt to file your claim after the applicable statute of limitations has passed, courts will almost always reject your claim unless it meets one of the limited exceptions.
If a car accident victim is less than 18 years of age, the California statute of limitations will not begin until the victim’s 18th birthday.
The second exception extends the statute of limitations when an injury is not apparent immediately after an accident. In such cases, the statute of limitations begins once you discover the injury.
However, this exception applies only in limited circumstances. You must prove that the injury stemmed from the car accident and that the injury was not readily apparent or treatable immediately after the accident.
The bottom line is that courts are usually unwilling to grant extensions for filing deadlines. Once the deadline passes, you will forfeit your right to bring a claim. You need to know how to calculate the applicable statute of limitations and ensure you file before the deadline passes to protect your right to a legal claim.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Filing an auto accident claim can be difficult and time-consuming. A qualified auto accident attorney understands what types of damages are available and how to prove those damages in court. If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your current injuries and costs, as well as any future costs associated with your injuries.
Calculating future costs can be complex and often necessitates hiring experts who can accurately estimate your future costs. Damages awards should cover all crash-related injuries you are currently suffering and will suffer in the future.
You should not have to bear the burden of paying for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful conduct. Contact a personal injury attorney today so you can get the compensation you deserve.