statute of limitations for California car accidents

After a car accident, it’s vital to recover compensation for the injuries and property damage you sustained in the collision, especially if you were not at fault.

But how long after an accident can you file a claim in California? Recovering from injuries and getting your life back on track may take time.

Your focus may not be on pursuing a lawsuit. Unfortunately, waiting too long to hold the proper party responsible could prevent you from recovering your damages. Read on to learn more about the California car accident statute of limitations.

Get in touch with us today via phone or email to discover more about how Silva Injury Law can assist you.

What is the California Car Accident Statute of Limitations?

There is a two-year car accident statute of limitations in California.

This is when a victim must file a lawsuit after suffering injuries in a car accident. This statute of limitations applies to all individuals involved in a collision, whether you were a driver, passenger, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian. 

Failing to file within two years will normally bar you from later bringing a claim against the at-fault party. However, some exceptions do exist to the two-year statute of limitations for a car accident.

If you believe you missed your opportunity to file, speak to a personal injury attorney to learn whether you have options under any exceptions. 

The statute of limitations differs if you wish to file a claim for only property damage, not injuries. In these situations, a person must file their claim three years from the accident date. 

For an accident with a government entity, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is drastically shorter. The statute of limitations in these situations is six months from the collision date.

Common claims against a government entity include when a dangerous road condition or the negligence of a government employee led to your accident and caused your injuries and property damage. 

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident in California

A statute of limitations may be tolled or paused at specific times under certain circumstances. The following exceptions may lengthen the statute of limitations for a car accident: 

  • Minor child. If a minor is 18 when they suffered injuries in a car accident, the statute of limitations begins running when they reach the age of 18. 
  • Lack of mental capacity. A mentally incapacitated person’s statute of limitations does not begin running until they regain capacity under the law. 
  • Person dies. If the injured party dies within six months of the statute of limitations ending, the lawsuit may be filed by the personal representative of their estate as long as it is filed within six months of the plaintiff’s death. 
  • Person in prison. In situations where the plaintiff is in prison, the statute of limitations may pause until their release from prison or for two years, whichever occurs soonest. 
  • The defendant left California. If the defendant in your case leaves California, the statute of limitations may pause until they return. Once the defendant returns to California, the statute of limitations begins again. 
  • Delayed discovery of injuries. The statute of limitations may not begin to run until a person discovers their injuries. This can occur for certain conditions that do not manifest themselves immediately.  

Speak to a car accident attorney to learn about the filing deadlines in your case and whether any exceptions may apply to you. Even if two years have passed since your accident, you may still have an avenue to pursue a lawsuit against the party that caused you harm. 

Why Would A Person Be Reluctant to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit? 

There may be several reasons why a victim may hesitate to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party they believe caused their harm:

1. Complexity 

The legal system is intimidating, with strict procedures, legal documents, and aggressive attorneys. Many of those injured in a car accident may fear getting lost in the process without a solution. A skilled attorney can help you navigate through the legal process efficiently and effectively. 

2. Concerns About Costs

After a car accident, many victims are drowning in debt from medical expenses and an inability to work.

These mounting financial troubles are overwhelming, and the thought of retaining an attorney seems far from an affordable solution.

Financial concerns often deter individuals from pursuing personal injury claims because they may believe they have the money to pay for legal representation.

Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis and only get paid if they obtain a judgment or settlement in your case. A contingency agreement can provide significant relief to persons who wish to pursue a lawsuit but may not have immediate funds available. 

3. Uncertainty About Case Value 

People often wonder, what is my case worth? A person may not believe their case is worth enough and is unsure what they may be entitled to in compensation.

The value of a case depends on various factors, including the severity of your injuries, the value of your economic and non-economic damages, a determination of fault, and many others. Your attorney carefully analyzes the facts of your case to determine its value and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. 

Despite these common reasons for hesitation to file a personal injury claim, you should never delay contacting an attorney to discuss your case.

Don’t allow the statute of limitations in your case to expire without speaking to an attorney and exploring your options for compensation from the party that caused your injuries and losses. 

Have Questions About Car Accident Statute of Limitations? Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers Today

At Silva Injury Law, we promote our clients’ healing through compassionate advocacy when they need it most. We treat our clients like family and are with you every step of the way.

It’s easy to understand how many people may feel overwhelmed by their situation after an accident. Many don’t know what steps to take, how to protect their rights, or the right course of action to pursue the compensation they may be entitled to receive.

At Silva Injury Law, we look out for your best interests and commit to achieving your best resolution. We never charge clients upfront to handle their cases. We know you may be financially stressed after an accident due to medical expenses and an inability to work.

If we accept your matter, you don’t have to pay a penny until we collect a settlement or judgment on your behalf. We also advance the costs of your case.

Our fee is a percentage of what we collect, so we fight hard for every case and are never afraid to take your case to trial if settlement offers fail to meet your needs.

Contact us today by phone or email to learn more about how Silva Injury Law can help you. We offer free consultations. You have nothing to lose, so contact us today.