How Long After A Car Accident Can You Sue In California?

Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles

Car accident victims usually seek to resolve the matter with car insurance companies once accidents happen. However, settlements offered by insurance companies are not usually sufficient to cover the damages in certain situations. You may have to file a lawsuit to be compensated for injuries sustained in a car accident in California. You could be barred from pursing a lawsuit if you file the lawsuit past the the statute of limitations. 

What is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations refers to the period within which a victim can file a lawsuit. Once the period of time lapses, the victim may be barred from bringing a lawsuit by the defendant if the defendant raises a statute of limitation defense, even if he or she obviously sustained injuries in the accident.

The Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in California

The statute of limitations for adult car accident victims in California is two years, which is similar to that of other personal injury cases. 

The statute of limitations is, however, three years if you just wish to recover for the damage that your vehicle sustained. For property damage that results from a car accident, the statute of limitations is also three years from the date the accident happened.

The statute of limitations is six months if you have been involved in a car accident with a government entity, whether federal, local, or state. If the government entity denies the claim, you have a further six months from the date of denial to file a new lawsuit for the personal injury claim against the responsible government entity.

When Should You File a Lawsuit?

Just because you are allowed to file a lawsuit immediately after the car accident, it does not mean that you have to. It can take long for you to recover from serious injuries and you may require further treatment if the initial treatment is not successful.

It is important that both you and the medical providers providing treatment have a firm treatment plan in place before you settle the claim. Victims of car accidents too often require additional treatment, but since they hastily settled their claim, they are left with out-of-pocket expenses that add up quickly.

Conversely, waiting until the very last possible moment to file your lawsuit or claim to pursue your personal injury matter is not advisable. If you don’t file a lawsuit that meets all the legal requirements and before the expiration of the statute of limitations, it may become worthless, and you will be responsible for all expenses personally instead of the responsible at-fault driver.

The Bottom Line

If you have been involved in a car accident in California and are considering filing a lawsuit, you need to be mindful of the statute of limitations. If you fail to act on time, crucial evidence can get lost, and you might lose your right to a lawsuit. If you are not sure about the laws that apply in your case, it is important to contact a competent and experienced personal injury lawyer.

Schedule Your Free Consultation With Our Personal Injury Lawyer

Christopher Montes de Oca is an experienced personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. Chris is recognized as a “Super Lawyer Rising Star,” a recognition that only 2.5 percent of lawyers receive, because of the exceptional results he has seen and his dedication to his clients. Chris services clients throughout Los Angeles, including Echo Park, Maywood, Long Beach, Whittier, Glendale, La Mirada, Pico Rivera, Hacienda Heights, and Alhambra. Call him today for a free consultation at (562) 901-4664.