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Home / Auto Accident / Statute of Limitations for California Car Accident Claims

Background image of race finish track with headline "Statute of Limitations for California Car Accident Claims"

Statute of Limitations for California Car Accident Claims

To recover compensation against the other driver in an auto collision, you must file a California car accident injury claim within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the legal time limit you have to initiate a claim for compensation for your injuries and property damage.

Work with a car accident attorney from The Shirvanian Law Firm to protect your right to a fair settlement. We can ensure you file your claim within California’s statute of limitations, allowing you to seek compensation for damages incurred in a crash.

Why Should I File My Claim Within the Statute of Limitations?

Filing a personal injury claim within the statute of limitations in California is crucial for maintaining your right to compensation. Initiating your claim within this time frame ensures your right to pursue damages against a negligent party that caused you harm.

If you fail to file within California’s statute of limitations, you will forfeit your right to receive a settlement. This could leave you with medical debt or property damage you must pay out-of-pocket. It also means you can’t obtain non-economic damages to cover the emotional consequences of the incident, such as anxiety or PTSD, which can affect your quality of life.

Filing within California’s car accident claim time limit is also beneficial because it allows you to collect and submit evidence before it becomes degraded or lost. Evidence such as medical records, surveillance footage, and witness statements can be more difficult to obtain as time passes. Witnesses may not remember certain details weeks or months after the crash, and footage from nearby cameras may be deleted. This can make it challenging for your attorney to build a strong case.

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

California’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims begins on the accident date. Your claim may have varying timeframes based on different situations:

  • Bodily injury: When you suffer bodily injury, you have two years from the crash date to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault parties.
  • Wrongful death: If a loved one dies in an accident, survivors have two years from the date of their death to bring a claim for wrongful death.
  • Accidents with minors: The statute of limitations for minors in car accident claims does not begin on the date of the accident. Instead, the statute of limitations starts on the minor’s 18th birthday and allows them to pursue a personal injury claim within two years of turning 18.
  • Mental capacity: If the person suing is mentally incapacitated, the statute of limitations is extended until mental capacity is restored. For example, a victim suffered severe injuries, which left them unconscious and unable to make independent decisions. Once they regain the ability to consent and make decisions on their own, they can decide to file a personal injury claim.
  • Government entities: You must file a claim within six months if your injuries were caused by a government vehicle. Once you file, the government has 45 days to respond. If you receive a denial letter, you have six months from the date of denial to file a lawsuit. If you don’t receive a rejection letter, you have two years from the incident date to file.

Does the Discovery Rule Apply to the Statute of Limitations in California?

A car accident can result in some people having delayed symptoms of severe injuries. For example, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may not manifest until days or weeks later.

When this delay occurs, California’s discovery rule allows you to file your claim within one year from the date you discovered your car accident injury. To file a valid lawsuit under this rule, your attorney will need to prove the following:

  • You were unaware and had no knowledge of the facts that would have made a reasonable person suspect that you suffered harm due to someone else’s wrongful act.
  • Despite a thorough investigation, you were unable to determine the specific facts underlying the lawsuit that caused you harm.

What if I Need to File an Insurance Claim?

The California statute of limitations applies to lawsuits and not car insurance claims. However, following an accident, you must file your car insurance claim as soon as possible to ensure compliance with the insurance policy’s filing times.

Insurance negotiations between your lawyer and the other driver’s insurance company can take several weeks or months. Having enough time to prepare and file a legal claim within the statute of limitations becomes important if negotiations don’t result in a reasonable settlement.

Your lawyer can assess the other driver’s insurance coverage limits to determine if they will cover your injuries and damages. They can also submit a car accident demand letter to the other driver’s insurance company within the statute of limitations. This demand letter serves as a formal request for compensation and outlines the damages you have incurred from the accident.

What The Shirvanian Law Firm Can Do for You

At The Shirvanian Law Firm, we are skilled at navigating car accident cases in California. Attorney Narbeh Shirvanian has helped multiple clients obtain fair settlements for injuries suffered in a collision and will fight on your behalf with insurance companies or in a court of law to get what you’re owed.

With helpful resources like the firm’s car accident settlement guide and Narbeh’s knowledge of California car insurance and statute of limitation laws, you can file a well-supported claim for compensation.

Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation for your case. Our firm works on a contingency basis, so you pay when we settle your case.