When you experience a car accident, you can easily be overcome by fear, stress, and anxiety. Car accidents can be overwhelming, and taking legal action right away isn’t always possible. However, there is a time limit as to when you can file a lawsuit!! This blog will cover what the car accident statute of limitations in California is and the rationale behind it.
What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in California?
If you have been injured in a car accident in California, you have the right to make a claim for damages (physical and financial) against negligent drivers. The time limit for filing a lawsuit in this state is two years. As outlined in the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340, the car accident statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident.
What’s the Rationale Behind the Two-Year Limit?
The rationale behind the two-year limit involves the preservation of relevant evidence. The determination of fault in accident cases depends on accurate physical evidence and the reliability of the witnesses’ memories. When more time passes by, the less reliable that information becomes. That’s why the state of California has set a two-year limit.
What If a Government Employee’s Negligence Caused My Car Accident?
If you were injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of a government employee in California (such as getting rear-ended by a city vehicle), you will need to follow a special set of rules. You will have to yield notice of your claim within six months and give the government municipality a chance to respond to your allegations. If the Governmental entity denies the claim, a lawsuit must be filed within six months of the denial of the claim. Claims against government entities can be tricky as it can be difficult to identify what is a government entity and what’s not, like a city bus, SDGE truck, etc.
Are There Any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
There are various factors that can affect the statute of limitations. These exceptions include the following scenarios:
- Damaged Property – If you are only seeking to repair damages to your vehicle or property, the statute of limitations is three years [California Code for Civil Procedure, section 338.]
- Wrongful Death – A lawsuit for the death of a person begins from the date the person died, even if the person passes away sometime after the accident.
- Injuries to Minors – If a child under the age of 18 gets injured in a car accident, the two-year period does not commence until the child is 18 years old. For example, if a 10-year-old gets injured, he could take legal action until he turns 20! A child of this age would have a 10-year limit.
- Defendants Unavailable – The statute of limitations can get extended if the person you intend to sue is in prison or deamed legally incapacitated.
- Lack of Mental Capabilities – The time frame can get extended if the victim suing is mentally incapacitated. For example, if the injuries sustained were grave enough to leave the victim unconscious or otherwise unable to act independently, the statute of limitations is tolled.
What Happens If Your Claim is Filed After the Deadline?
If you file your case after the deadline has passed, chances are the entire case can be dismissed by the court. Unless your claim falls within the few limited exceptions that may enable the case to proceed, you will most likely lose the chance of receiving any type of compensation for injuries or property damage. That’s why it’s vital that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you on the appropriate time limit for filing your claim.
When is the Right Time to File Your Claim?
Many people believe that filing a lawsuit should be done as soon as possible. This isn’t always the case. It is often better to advance by presenting a claim with the insurance carrier of the negligent driver. This gives time for the injured person to obtain all necessary medical treatment required for their accident. Once the full extent of the injuries and losses have been gathered, it may be possible to settle the claim with the insurance adjusters for a fair amount of compensation.
Bonnici Law Group
The statute of limitations in California is generally two years. However, every case is different, and the only way to know what course of action is best for you is to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Bonnici Law Group can help evaluate your case and give you advice on when the best time to file is. We have years of experience providing Californians remarkable legal representation and can help you with your lawsuit. We hope this blog helped you get an understanding of California’s car accident statute of limitations. To get started with your case, give us a call at (619) 259-5199 or click here for a free consultation.