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How Long Do I Have to File a Claim After a Car Wreck in California?

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shutterstock_730538251.jpgWhen you have been injured in a serious car accident, handling the legal side of the aftermath may be the furthest thing from your mind. Especially if your injuries are severe and you must remain in the hospital or stay in a rehabilitation facility for some time, you may not quite feel up to going to court. Paperwork might not seem so important when you are in pain and unsure whether your injuries will fully heal. Ideally, you would have plenty of time to physically and emotionally recover before needing to race down to the courthouse to file a lawsuit. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. California, like every other state, imposes rather strict time limits for filing a lawsuit related to a car accident. These time limits are referred to as “statutes of limitation.” These limits are one of the reasons that it is best to reach out to an attorney as quickly as you are reasonably able to after a crash. 

What is California’s Statute of Limitations After a Car Accident?

Under California state law, you will generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. This may sound like quite a lot of time, but in practice, it really is not. A lot of factors can slow you down after a crash. Anything from drawn-out efforts to negotiate without judicial intervention to difficulty in procuring evidence related to future expenses can delay filing for some. People with brain injuries or PTSD may need significant time to regain their memories of the accident or ability to testify. 

Are There Any Circumstances Where the Statute of Limitations Might be Different?

The statute of limitations can differ depending on the situation. Circumstances that can affect the time limit for filing a lawsuit after a car crash include: 

  • Minor involved - Minors do not have the option of filing a lawsuit on their own behalf. If a responsible adult fails to file on behalf of an injured minor, the two-year statute of limitations does not start running until the minor has reached the age of 18. 

  • Government vehicles - If a city or state vehicle, like a public bus or police vehicle was involved, then you will have only six months from the date of the accident to file. 

  • Wrongful death - It is a sad fact that people who are killed by negligent drivers do not always succumb to their injuries immediately. It is not uncommon for an accident victim to survive for months after the accident before losing their life. In this event, the statute of limitations only begins to run on the date of death. 

These are just a few circumstances that can affect the time you have to file a case. An attorney can help you understand how California’s statute of limitations might affect your individual case. 

Call an L.A. County Car Accident Lawyer

If you were injured in a car accident, Tahmazian Law Firm, P.C. can help you file your claim in a timely manner. Our skilled Los Angeles car accident attorneys can help make sure that you do not run out the statute of limitations before recovering damages. Call us today at 818-242-8201 for a free consultation. 




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