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How Long Can Someone Sue After a Car Accident in California?

Man after car accident in an orthosis and on crutches learning to walk in the clinic, helpful therapist near him

In the aftermath of a car accident, victims often grapple with physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial burdens. While you may feel like you need money now to help pay for your injuries, it’s important not to settle a personal injury claim too soon. Once you settle your case, you can’t go back and seek more money even if your injury and expenses turn out to be more extensive than you first thought. At the same time, you can’t wait around forever to resolve your claim; at some point, the law steps in and says when it’s too late to file a lawsuit.

When is the best time to settle your case, and how long is too long? These are questions best answered by a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who is familiar with the details of your situation. Read on for some general guidance regarding the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in California. If you’ve been hurt in a crash in San Diego or statewide, contact Kalfayan Law Firm in Del Mar for advice and representation from a skilled and experienced California personal injury attorney.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations in California

The statute of limitations refers to the period within which one must file a lawsuit. In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including car accidents, is generally two years from the date of the injury. This law is outlined in the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1.

Why the Statute of Limitations Matters

The two-year limit serves multiple purposes. Primarily, it ensures that legal actions are taken while evidence is fresh and witnesses’ memories are reliable. Additionally, it provides a sense of closure for all parties involved. Failure to file a lawsuit within this period typically results in the loss of the right to sue.

Exceptions to the Rule

While the two-year statute is the norm, exceptions exist. These include:

  1. Minor Plaintiffs: If the injured party is a minor, the clock on the statute of limitations starts ticking on their 18th birthday, extending the time to file until their 20th birthday.

  2. Delayed Discovery: In some cases, injuries or their extent are not immediately apparent. The statute may extend, allowing the lawsuit to be filed within two years from the date the injury was discovered or should have reasonably been discovered.

  3. Claims Against Government Entities: If the accident involves a government vehicle or entity, a different set of rules apply. Victims must file an administrative claim within six months of the incident, as per the California Government Code Section 911.2.

Legal Action Post-Statute of Limitations

Attempting to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired is often futile. Courts typically dismiss these cases unless an exception applies. However, it’s crucial to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to explore all possible legal avenues.

Consulting with a personal injury attorney promptly after an accident ensures that your rights are protected. An attorney can:

  • Evaluate the specifics of your case
  • Guide you through California’s legal intricacies
  • Help gather and preserve critical evidence
  • Ensure compliance with all legal deadlines

Call Kalfayan Law Firm for Immediate Legal Assistance After a Car Accident in California

Kalfayan Law Firm, with its experienced team and extensive resources, is dedicated to representing injury victims in San Diego and throughout California statewide. Should you find yourself or a loved one needing legal assistance following a car accident, do not hesitate to seek professional legal help. Understanding the time-sensitive nature of these matters, our expertise in navigating California’s legal system can be invaluable in securing the compensation and justice you deserve after a car accident. Call 619-232-0331 to discuss your case and find out how we can help.

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