What is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in California?
Car accident victims are legally entitled to compensation for their injuries. To obtain this compensation, victims must file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. However, it’s important for car accident victims to understand that this lawsuit must be filed within a certain amount of time or they will lose their right to compensation. The length of time victims have to take legal action is known as a statute of limitations, and it varies from state-to-state. How long do you have to file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident in California? Here’s what you need to know:
The Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Cases Involving Injuries
Many people who are involved in car accidents suffer injuries as a result of the collision. If you are injured by a negligent driver, you can recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering related to the injuries. The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the car accident. This may seem like a long period of time, but it can go by much faster than you may think. Because of this, personal injury attorneys recommend taking legal action right away instead of waiting until the two-year mark is right around the corner.
The Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Cases Involving Property Damage
It is possible to walk away from a car accident completely unharmed. However, even if you are not injured, your car could be damaged as a result of the collision. In this situation, you will need to file a claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for your property damage.
The statute of limitations on property damage claims is three years in California. This means if you do not file a lawsuit within two years to recover compensation for your injuries, you still have additional time to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for property damage.
It’s important to note that car accident victims can recover compensation for any type of property damage that occurred in the collision. For example, if a valuable item inside your car was damaged at the time of the crash, you can recover compensation for these damages. As long as you are able to provide proof of the damages, the at-fault party should compensate you for it.
The Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Cases in California
The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in California is two years from the date of the victim’s death. It’s important to note that the two-year time period begins on the day of the victim’s death, not on the day the victim was injured. For instance, let’s say the victim was involved in a car accident and rushed to the hospital with serious, life-threatening injuries. The victim stays in the hospital for one week before passing away as a result of the injuries. In this case, the victim’s family would have two years from the date of the victim’s death, not the date of the car accident, to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, if the victim was killed instantly in the crash, the family would have two years from the date of the accident.
The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases Involving Government Entities
Government entities are sometimes to blame for car accidents. This situation often arises when a negligent bus driver, a government employee, causes an accident with another vehicle on the road. Since the bus driver is a government employee, the government entity that employs the driver is liable for the accident.
If you are injured in a car accident caused by a negligent government employee, you do not have much time to file a personal injury claim. The law only provides victims in this situation with six months to initiate the claim against the responsible government entity. For this reason, car accident victims must move quickly if they would like to recover compensation for their injuries.
The Clock is Running During Negotiations With the Insurance Company
Typically, a victim only files a lawsuit when the at-fault party’s insurance company is unwilling to negotiate or make a fair offer outside of the courtroom. Negotiating with the insurance company to reach a settlement for your injuries can take months–in some cases, even years. If you are in the process of negotiating a settlement, it’s important to keep an eye on the calendar. Why? The clock is running while you are negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company. The two-year statute of limitations does not begin once the negotiations start to stall, it begins immediately after the crash. This means if you are inching closer and closer to the two-year mark and have still not reached a settlement with the insurance company, you must file a lawsuit to ensure you do not lose the opportunity to recover compensation.
If you file a personal injury lawsuit after the statute of limitations has passed, the defendant will most likely ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit. The judge who has been assigned to the case will have an opportunity to review the details of the accident before deciding whether or not to dismiss it. Most judges in this situation will dismiss the case if it is filed after the two-year time period has passed. This means the defendant can no longer be held liable for the harm they have caused and you will no longer be able to recover compensation for the damages you have suffered.
Have you been injured in a car accident? Contact Carpenter & Zuckerman today to schedule a free consultation with our team of knowledgeable personal injury lawyers. Our personal injury attorneys will fight tirelessly to recover the compensation you deserve.
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