What is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in California?
You have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury related to a car accident. You have three years to file a claim for property damage from a car accident. The statute of limitations for personal injury involving a government vehicle is just six months.
The statute of limitations is the number of years a person has to file a lawsuit against another party. Most suits have a statute of limitations between six months and four years. Claimants lose their right to file a legal claim after the statute of limitations has expired.
According to the Judicial Council of California and its website on the rules of the court in California, personal injury cases are allowed two years to file, and property damage lawsuits are permitted three years to file. Exceptions do exist in some cases, and the Judicial Council recommends talking to a lawyer to clarify and confirm the statute of limitations for your case.
How long after a car accident can I file a claim in California?
According to the California Code of Civil Procedure section 340, you have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury related to a car accident. You have three years to file a claim for property damage from a car accident. However, these time limits don’t apply to government entities. The statute of limitations (SOL) for personal injury involving a government vehicle is just six months, and the SOL for property damage is one year.
There are a few exceptions, as explained within California Government Code section 905 and section 911.2. The California Court suggests speaking with a lawyer to clarify your claim to avoid missing your filing deadline. Car accident lawsuits with government entities may occur with defendants like city police departments, the California Highway Patrol, local trash trucks, and public vehicles like trains and buses.
When does the car accident statute of limitations start in California?
The timer for the statute of limitations on an injury sustained during a car accident begins the day of the accident. For lawsuits where someone dies, the timer starts on the date of the person’s death when and if the date is different from the day of the accident.
What if the deadline has passed for filing a car accident claim?
The statute of limitations is a firm deadline in most cases, but some rare exceptions may allow you to file a lawsuit even after the expiration. In these cases, the SOL is “tolled,” which is another way of saying suspended or paused.
- Persons lacking mental capacity to file have their statute of limitations tolled until they recover.
- The statute of limitations timer for minors doesn’t begin until they reach 18-years-old.
- Defendants in prison toll the statute of limitations on car accident claims.
- Defendants outside the state of California toll the statute of limitations until they return.
- When someone is incapacitated, they cannot participate in a lawsuit, and the SOL is tolled.
What is needed to file a car accident claim in California?
Like most lawsuits, a car accident claim in California requires your lawyer to prepare a lot of paperwork, but it’s even more critical to collect evidence before filing the claim. If injuries don’t otherwise prevent you from gathering documents, here are the items you’ll want to locate for your lawyer. The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a place to start.
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Witness statements
- Car insurance policies
- Police reports
In addition to filing a lawsuit, the victim of a California car accident may need to file a claim with the opposing party or their insurance carrier. While gathering evidence, you’ll be able to deliver comprehensive details to the court regarding injuries and medical treatments. Swiftly contacting a personal injury lawyer who understands the statutes of limitations in California will help ensure you don’t miss your deadline while gathering your evidence.
When is the right time to file a car accident claim?
While it’s possible to file a car accident lawsuit in California almost immediately after the collision occurs, it’s often best to wait until your healthcare professional has discovered or helped resolve your medical issues. An active and complete treatment plan helps ensure the most accurate and beneficial result when settling a claim.
Do I need a car accident lawyer to help file a claim?
Not every car accident requires a lawyer. When an accident has no injuries, the best course of action is often to let the insurance companies handle the details. Getting a car fixed after a mild fender bender is often as simple as making a phone call to a few insurance companies (yours and the other driver’s companies).
However, if you have any inkling that you might want to file a lawsuit because of your injuries, it’s essential to work with a lawyer on your case. Not only will your car accident attorney help you get the most compensation for your claim, but they’ll also know all the dates and deadlines for your case. Let us handle your California car accident lawsuit. Contact Cutter Law today to speak with a personal injury lawyer.