How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in California?

By Ese OmofomaJune 6, 2023
How long do you have to file a car accident lawsuit in california

Let's face it - car accidents are no fun. They can be highly distressing and traumatic experiences. The aftereffects of an accident can be daunting and overwhelming, both emotionally and legally. However, understanding your legal rights and taking appropriate action is crucial as you navigate the process of moving forward from any motor vehicle accident.

Dealing with the consequence of a car accident involves various challenges. First and foremost, the immediate shock and potential injuries may require medical attention. Once the initial trauma subsides and urgent medical needs are addressed, it becomes essential to be aware of your legal rights. Getting a grasp of the laws and regulations that apply to your situation can empower you to make informed decisions and safeguard your interests.

When you are involved in a California car accident, here are a few things you should know.

Importance of Understanding California's Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

Importance of understanding statute of limitations for car accidents

Believe it or not, auto accidents do have expiration dates. That's why it is very important to treat any accident claim in California with expediency.

The statute of limitations was enacted and implemented for a few reasons, so it's critical to pay close attention to the car accident statute so you won't miss any important deadlines. This is one of the advantages of securing an experienced attorney to work on your personal injury case that can ensure you file your claims in a timely manner.

Filing a legal claim against the at-fault party may seem as if it's an open-and-shut process. However, numerous people who have been involved in an auto accident seek compensation and fail to get medical treatment or have had to go through bankruptcy proceedings because they did not have an experienced personal injury attorney working on their behalf.

General Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in California

The general statute of limitations for personal injury claims in California is based on the different types of cases that pertain to car accident claims. If the car accident case has someone who suffered injuries, the victim has up to two years to file a claim against the other driver.

If the accident involved a person's death, the estate or family members can file a wrongful death claim up to two years after the date the accident occurred.

Specific Time Limit for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in California

Specific time limit for filing a car accident lawsuit

Regarding car accidents in Southern California, it is important to understand that each type of accident has its own specific set of circumstances that may affect the statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations pertains to the legal timeframe during which a person can file a lawsuit or claim after an incident has occurred. These restrictions vary depending on the nature of the accident, and consulting a law firm can be highly advantageous when navigating through the process of filing an accident claim in California to ensure you do not go beyond the timeframe.

Determining the Applicable Time Limit

Every accident claim in California is indeed unique, and the specific circumstances surrounding each accident play a crucial role in determining the applicable time limit.

Attempting to handle an accident claim by oneself can be unwise, primarily because of the potential risk of missing crucial deadlines. Navigating the legal system and understanding complex laws and regulations can be challenging for someone without legal expertise.

A minor oversight or a missed deadline can give rise to the loss of the right to pursue a claim, leaving you with no opportunity to recover damages for your injuries, medical expenses, and other losses.

Factors Affecting the Time Limit for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit

Most legal claims vary in time limits based on certain instances. If the accident resulted in someone who lost mental capacity, the applicable statute is delayed until that person can rightfully defend their legal rights. Additionally, if the car accident involves a minor with serious injuries, the statute of limitations does not begin until that minor turns 18.

Many people are unaware of these specific stipulations to the law, but a personal injury attorney is well-versed in these matters and will know when claim limitations apply in Southern California.

Calculation of the Deadline Based on the Date of the Accident

Once an accident occurs, time becomes a critical factor, and it is essential to take prompt action. Consulting a personal injury attorney and filing a claim as promptly as possible after the accident is of utmost importance. By acting swiftly, you increase your chances of a successful outcome and ensure that you do not miss any important deadlines. An experienced law firm in car accidents will provide a free consultation and help you file a lawsuit.

Exceptions and Extensions to the Statute of Limitations

In rare circumstances, the court may extend the statute of limitations for certain cases. However, such instances are infrequent and evaluated case-by-case by judges. Some of the situations that qualify for an exception include the following:

  • The plaintiff is a minor.
  • The victim was not mentally sound at the time of the accident.
  • The defendant was evading service out of fraud.
  • The defendant was out of the country.

There are other small instances in which the court may make an exception. However, you don't want to count on this happening. They're more likely to dismiss your case and prevent you from filing again.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident in California

Steps to take after a car accident

Immediately after the accident occurs, several crucial actions should be initiated to make sure that you have the necessary support for any claim you intend to file. These actions are essential for preserving evidence, protecting your rights, and maximizing your chances of a successful claim. The following are some of the central elements that must take place:

Seeking Immediate Medical Attention

Seeking medical attention promptly after an accident is essential, regardless of whether there are visible injuries or not. Many injuries sustained in accidents may not be immediately apparent, as symptoms can take time to develop or may be masked by adrenaline or shock. This helps in providing valid information for your claim and works on your behalf.

After an accident, your body may experience a surge of adrenaline and shock, which can temporarily mask pain and symptoms. However, some injuries, such as whiplash, concussions, internal injuries, or soft tissue damage, may not become apparent until hours or even days later. Accident victims often forego medical attention and then start feeling the aftereffects once their bodies have started to heal from the trauma.

Reporting the Accident to the Appropriate Authorities

Every car accident claim needs attention from the authorities to properly record the accident for the insurance company, ensure people needing medical treatment are addressed, and clear any property damage that could cause additional harm to anyone in the area.

Collecting Evidence for a Potential Lawsuit

Collecting evidence is indeed crucial when filing a car accident claim. The physical evidence you gather serves multiple purposes, including supporting your property damage claim, providing documentation for your insurance carrier, and assisting your legal representation in building a strong case. Evidence plays a pivotal role in accident claims in California, where accident victims seek compensation for their losses.

Contacting an Attorney for Legal Advice

A car accident lawyer collaborates with you to ascertain if you have enough evidence to file a personal injury lawsuit. They are well-versed in car accident scenarios, know how to properly apply state law, help navigate working with an insurance adjuster, and work on behalf of your financial interests. When calling a law firm, they often offer free consultations to assess if you have a viable case and whether this would be a good fit.

It is essential to file a claim in a reasonable amount of time before the statute of limitations expires. When pursuing legal action following a car accident, things could take a while due to congested courts, gathering documentation, and defending the car accident claim.

Consequences of Filing a Personal Injury Claim in California After the Statute of Limitations Has Expired

Judges may not review any case filed after the personal injury claim statutes of limitation expire in Southern California because they may feel that two years is typically sufficient time to file a car accident claim unless additional stipulations are at play. In some cases, gathering all the information may take a while, so the time frame may not be as long as it seems.

The Importance of Consulting a Personal Injury Lawyer

The importance of consulting a personal injury lawyer

The insurance company often rejects many car accident claims occurring from a California car accident in an attempt to violate their legal rights.

A personal injury lawyer knows the process of filing a personal injury claim and also the confusion many victims go through when dealing with an insurance company or their adjusters. They also understand the intricacies of the statute of limitations, working to ensure their clients are well-represented when filing a car accident claim, especially if the case is against a government entity or a government employee was the negligent driver.

Schedule a Case Evaluation With Our Personal Injury Lawyers at Omofoma Law

Schedule a case evaluation with our personal injury lawyers

Not filing a claim when involved in an accident often comes with a high cost, whether it's loss of income, missing the statute of limitations, inability to work, or more. The best way to avoid this is by scheduling a case evaluation to determine if your case is viable enough to file a lawsuit.

For more information, contact our office today.

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