How Long After an Accident Can You Sue in California?

How long after an accident can you sue in California?

Did you know that about 1,500 car accidents occur in California daily? If you get into an accident, your priority is seeking medical treatment and recovery.

Next, speak with a personal injury lawyer to protect your legal rights. The problem is that you have a limited time after your accident to pursue compensation for your injuries.

The statute of limitations for most personal injury cases in California is two years, meaning you must file a claim within two years of the accident.

Read this post to the end to learn more about the statute of limitation for car accidents in California and few exceptions that may apply.

How Long Can You Wait to Sue Someone for Personal Injury?

In California, the clock starts ticking on the day the accident happened. Your actual timeline for filing a personal injury case depends on who is responsible for your injuries.

You have up to two years to file a lawsuit if another motorist caused the accident. But if a government agency was at fault for your accident, the statute of limitations in California is lowered to six months.

personal injury law

Other factors, such as if the responsible party is in prison, insane, or bankrupt, may influence when the clock starts ticking.

Speak to a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine what may affect your case and how much time you have to file it.

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Sue Someone?

California has two different statutes of limitations for auto accidents. The first relates to your right to file a personal injury lawsuit, whose statute of limitations is two years.

The other is the property damage claim, which you must file within three years. California acknowledges that repairing or replacing a vehicle after an accident takes some time.

It also recognizes that some damages may not be immediately apparent, resulting in costly future repairs. Consult with accident claim attorneys to better understand how California’s personal injury laws relate to your accident and how long you have to file a lawsuit after an accident.

Wrongful Death Claims after Car Accidents in California

Unintentional injuries are a primary cause of death in California. Car crashes are the most common cause of death in these kinds of accidents.

If a loved one died in a car accident, you have up to two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim in California. However, the statute of limitations does not always start on the day of the accident.

In unfortunate situations, the victim succumbs to their injuries after some time. You will undoubtedly face pushback from the at-fault party and their lawyer if the victim dies much later after an accident.

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They could try to downplay their liability for the death by blaming something else, such as the victim’s prior medical condition, for the death.

The earlier you contact a lawyer after an accident, the easier it becomes to prove the relationship between the accident and the resulting injuries, including the victim’s untimely death.

What If I File My Car Accident Lawsuit After the Deadline Has Passed?

In this case, the court will likely dismiss your case if the defendant files a petition. That means you forfeit your right to financial compensation.

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Always file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider while undergoing medical treatment. The claims adjuster could settle the case for a fair amount after determining the damages.

By doing this, you may avoid the crowded courts and exorbitant litigation fees associated with lawsuits.

How long after an accident can you sue in California?

You may think two years is a long time to file an auto accident claim or lawsuit, but these cases often need thorough investigations. Depending on the parties involved or other difficulties, your car accident lawyer might need more time to build a case.

The statute of limitations applies even if you opt for an out-of-court settlement. So, file your case as soon as possible.

Is the California Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Extended for Minors?

According to California law, a minor (under 18) has no mental capacity to make legal decisions.

So, if a minor sustains injuries in California, the two-year statute of limitations is postponed until the victim turns 18.

But this rule is subject to some exceptions. One applies to medical malpractice claims, where the minor’s guardian must file a claim within the appropriate time frame (whichever is later):

  • Three years from the accident date
  • Before the minor’s eighth birthday, if they are under six years old at the time of the injury

The other exception applies to injuries suffered before or during birth. For this, the person taking legal action on the victim’s behalf must do so within six years after birth.

Statute of Limitations for Small Claims in California Courts

A 2017 California Court Statistics Report estimates that 163,575 minor claims were filed that year. Below are some facts relating to small claims court:

  • Plaintiffs do not necessarily need legal representation in small claims cases.
  • Individuals cannot pursue more than $10,000 in California small claims court.
  • Sole proprietorships count as individuals, but other businesses can claim up to $5,000.
  • You can file only two small claims per year if their value is over $2,500, but there is no limit on how many small claims with a value of less than $2,500 you can file annually.

Small claims court only resolves fender benders that resulted in no injuries. Fatal accidents involving bodily injuries, such as truck or motorcycle accidents, require the help of a lawyer to seek the total value of your claim.

What Damages Can You Recover in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Damages you can collect in a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a lawyer include:

What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in California

The value of a personal injury lawsuit depends on several factors, including the severity of your injuries and the level of negligence involved.

An experienced lawyer can fight to protect your rights and secure maximum financial compensation on your behalf.

Contact a California Car Accident Attorney Today!

Auto accidents can be life changing. You can incur high medical bills and property repair costs you cannot afford to pay alone.

Your best bet is to file your case on time to increase your chances of receiving compensation. Working with a knowledgeable lawyer can further maximize your financial compensation.

At Legal Giant, we partner with the best personal injury lawyers in the country. We can link you with a California car accident lawyer to guide you through the legal process and help get you what you deserve.

Contact us at (855) 740-5024 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.

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