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California Car Accident Statute of Limitations

Published April 19, 2023 by Harker Injury Law

A car accident can turn an ordinary day into one you will never forget. Injuries sustained in the collision can leave you wondering how to get your life back on track. 

Getting the necessary medical treatment for serious injuries is essential. Yet, how can you afford it, especially if you cannot return to work?

When our friends and family experienced car accidents, they had similar worries. Our legal team at Harker Injury Law understands the difficulties you will face as you seek justice.

One significant challenge is meeting California’s statute of limitations for car accident claims. We are ready to help you seek compensation for your injuries before it is too late.

We care about you. When you contact us for a free consultation, we immediately consider how to help you. Learn how to secure your financial future today before the statute of limitations expires.

Understanding Your Options After a California Car Accident

What is suitable for one car accident victim might not be the best course of action for someone else with different circumstances. 

Consulting an experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine which of the following options are best for you:

  1. Settlement talks with insurance companies: The at-fault party’s insurance carrier is responsible for paying for your losses. An insurance adjuster will determine a reasonable amount for property damage and medical bills. If the adjuster’s estimates are unfair, a car accident lawyer who knows what your case is worth can negotiate for you. Many car accident claims are settled out of court.
  2. Legal action: Filing personal injury claims often result when the at-fault party denies his or her role in the accident. A law firm can collect accurate physical evidence to prove the negligent driver caused the accident. Then, a lawyer can present your car accident claim in court to get proper compensation for your damages.
  3. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR): ADR is an alternative to the civil procedure of a formal trial. It aims to resolve issues through mediation, arbitration, or neutral evaluation.

Once you decide how to handle your accident claim, you might assume all you need is physical evidence of the at-fault party’s improper actions. Yet, the outcome of a legal claim does not depend solely on who is right or wrong. 

The State of California sets an appropriate time limit for every type of legal action. You must abide by these deadlines to maintain your eligibility to receive compensation.

How can you ensure that the statute of limitations won’t run out on your car accident claim?

What California’s Statute of Limitations Means

A statute of limitation is a deadline by government entities to ensure people file legal claims in a timely manner. With a few limited exceptions, California code imposes the following statutes of limitations.

Personal injury

If someone hurts you or causes a person’s death, a 2-year statute applies. Your time to pursue damages begins when the intentional wrongdoing or accident occurred. Examples of qualifying incidents could include wrongful death, assault, or car accidents caused by negligent drivers.

Property damage

When someone damages or destroys your property, you can sue him or her for the cost of repairing or replacing your belongings. Property damage can encompass trespassing, fraud, and causing damage to personal property taken without permission. 

Medical malpractice

The statute of limitations is either 1 year from the date you discovered (or should have known) about your injury or 3 years from the date of the injury to make a claim. You must give the healthcare provider a 90-day notice before filing a lawsuit.

Government cases

You could file a car accident claim against a governmental entity if a government employee like a city bus driver caused your injuries. However, you must follow special requirements set by California government code.

The statute of limitations for property damage, injury, and wrongful death requires you to act promptly. You must submit an administrative form within 6 months of the car accident.

With rare exceptions, you will receive a response within 45 days. If a governmental entity denies your claim, you have 6 months to file a motion in court. If you receive no response within 45 days, you have up to 2 years from the incident to file a court claim.

Since car claims involving a government entity are complex, consulting an experienced attorney is wise. Your legal team can make sure you file your personal injury claim before the statute of limitations expires.

Note this important word of caution from the courts: Read the California law that applies to your specific situation since a few exceptions or other specific rules could apply to your personal injury claim. 

A car accident lawyer can help you understand the applicable statute of limitations.

Acting for a Mentally Incapacitated Relative

Persons lacking mental capacity cannot comprehend the full extent of state law or its time limits. If a relative suffered a traumatic brain injury during a car accident, you might need to make decisions on his or her behalf. 

The car accident attorneys of Harker Injury Law want to help you do what is best for your loved one. Getting your lawsuit filed before the car accident statute of limitations ends is essential to recover compensation for long-term medical care and lost wages.

For car accident cases, you must prove that your family member’s injuries resulted from the car accident. The insurance company will want relevant evidence within a specific timeframe. 

As the time limit approaches, our team can build your case while you care for your loved one. The sooner you acquire our quality legal representation, the sooner we can work to meet the statute of limitations. 

How Harker Injury Law Meets the Challenge 

Many accident victims realize that an uncooperative insurance carrier is not the only difficulty they have to handle. Deadlines set by government entities can add intense stress, especially if you are recovering from your injuries. 

If a person begins a lawsuit on his or her own, the statute of limitations can seem intimidating. Why not let Harker Injury Law relieve the pressure? 

An experienced personal injury lawyer can review the appropriate California Civil Procedure section to determine the essential time limits for filing your car accident claim. Put our experience to work for you.

Do you know where your claim falls on the timeline? Find out how much time you have left today.

Contact us for a free evaluation of the statute of limitations that applies to your case. 

We only charge if we secure money for you, so there is no reason to hesitate.

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  • J Reuben Clark Law Society
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