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

Editorial Team

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

In California, individuals seeking to file a lawsuit for car accident injuries must be attentive to the state’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. When it comes to car accidents, this time frame is crucial as it defines the window for victims to seek compensation for their injuries. Under California law, this period is generally two years from the date of the injury.

Understanding the California Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims

Legal Time Limits for Personal Injury Lawsuits

The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in California arising from car accidents is generally two years from the date of the injury. If the injury was not discovered right away, the victim has one year from the date the injury was discovered.

Exceptions to the Standard Limitation Period

Certain circumstances can alter the standard statute of limitations in California:

  1. Minors: The countdown begins on the minor’s 18th birthday.
  2. Mentally Incompetent: Time is extended if the victim is mentally incompetent.
  3. Defendant’s Absence: If the defendant is out of state, the period may not run until they return.

These exceptions are subject to complex legal requirements and should be navigated with the assistance of an attorney.

Taking Action After a Car Accident

Steps to File a Car Accident Injury Lawsuit

After a car accident in California, the following steps are typically taken to file an injury lawsuit:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Prioritize health by getting immediate medical care. Documentation from healthcare providers will support the injury claim.
  2. Report the Accident: Notify law enforcement and ensure a police report is filed.
  3. Gather Evidence: Collect as much evidence as possible, including photographs and witness statements.
  4. Contact an Attorney: Consult an attorney experienced in California car accident laws to help navigate the legal process.
  5. File a Claim: The attorney will assist in filing an injury claim against the party at fault.
  6. Negotiate a Settlement: Before a lawsuit is necessary, an attempt to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company may be made.
  7. File a Lawsuit: If negotiations fail, formally file a lawsuit before the expiration of the California statute of limitations for car accidents.

Potential Consequences of Missing the Deadline

Missing the deadline to file a car accident injury lawsuit in California can result in significant consequences:

  • Loss of the Right to Sue: If the statute of limitations expires, the injured party typically loses the opportunity to file a lawsuit and recover damages.
  • Inability to Recover Damages: No legal recourse means the injured party bears all financial responsibilities related to the accident, including medical bills and lost wages.

The California Statute of Limitations for car accidents generally allows for two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. However, if a claim is against a government entity, the timeline is reduced to six months to file an administrative claim.