Under California’s Statute of Limitations, you have two years from the date of your car accident to file a lawsuit for injury compensation. After two years, the judge will likely dismiss your case. This general deadline, however, has several exceptions that can either extend or shorten the time limit.
Below are specific time limits for filing a personal injury lawsuit after an auto accident in California. If you need legal advice specific to your case, consult for free with our experienced personal injury attorneys by calling (951) 699-2100.
California Time Limits For Filing an Injury Lawsuit
The general statute of limitations (time limit) for car accident injuries in California is two years from the car crash date, except in these situations:
- Delayed discovery. Some accident injuries don’t manifest themselves until weeks or months later. If you can convince the court that your injury symptoms appeared late, the two-year clock starts running on the date you discovered your injury, not on the date of the accident itself.
- The injured is a minor. If the injured person is under 18 years old, the two-year clock is “tolled” or paused until the day they turn 18.
- The injured lacks mental capacity. In this case, the statute or time limit is also tolled until the victim regains enough mental capacity to pursue their claim.
- The defendant is a government entity. If you wish to sue a negligent government office – for example, a public works agency that failed to fix a dangerous road – you must first file a claim directly with that office within six months of your accident. If they deny your claim, you’ll then have one year to file a lawsuit against them.
- The defendant is unavailable. If, for example, the person you’re suing has gone out of the state or has been incarcerated, your time limit to sue is paused until their return.
- The defendant files for bankruptcy. The court will also pause any lawsuit until the defendant’s bankruptcy proceedings are done.
When is the Best Time to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
While it may seem like California gives you plenty of time to sue for your injuries, many claimants have made the mistake of waiting too long and ultimately lost their right to sue. On the other hand, filing too early could make you miss other injuries and losses that may crop up later on. The right timing is an important factor in maximizing your personal injury compensation, and an experienced injury attorney can guide you on this.
Before filing suit, your injury lawyer may want to wait for you to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) to get a complete picture of your injuries, expenses, and projected future costs. In addition, you and your attorney may use the lawsuit as leverage when you’re seeking a settlement from the at-fault party’s auto insurer. The insurance company may be more likely to settle with you rather than let your case go through a lengthy and costly trial.
It’s best to seek a lawyer’s advice for your particular case to determine the right strategy for you to maximize your compensation.
Contact a San Diego Car Accident Attorney
The Zucker Law Firm has been helping injured Californians for over 20 years. We know how to navigate California’s personal injury system to obtain the full compensation that our clients deserve. We’re fearless in negotiating with insurance companies, and skilled in representing accident victims in court. Talk to us about your auto accident injuries. Call us today at (951) 699-2100.