Time Limits to File a Car Accident Claim in California 

Time Limits to File a Car Accident Claim in California 

When it comes to filing a car accident lawsuit in California, acting promptly is essential. Under California law – and in all other states – there’s a limited window where you can file a civil suit to protect your eligibility for compensation. 

Knowing the deadline set by the state’s statute of limitations is crucial as failing to act in time generally means waiving your rights to pursue compensation. Another important point to understand is that these deadlines apply to filing lawsuits against the defendant, not to filing insurance claims. An insurance claim should be filed much sooner and is not impacted by this rule.

California Car Accident Statute of Limitations – Two Years

In California, the window to file a car accident lawsuit is generally two years from the date of your crash

CHAPTER 3. The Time of Commencing Actions Other Than for the Recovery of Real Property 

Within two years: An action for assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.

However, there are exceptions that can either shorten or extend this deadline, making it important to understand the law and to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Fresno as soon as possible after you are injured.

Exceptions to the Two-Year Deadline in California 

While the two-year statute of limitations applies to most car accident claims, there are some circumstances that follow a different timeline. Some of the most common exceptions to this deadline include the following: 

Claims Against a Government Entity: One exception involves lawsuits against government entities. In California, this deadline is 6 months from the date of the accident. There are other specific steps you must follow if you want to file a lawsuit against a government entity, making it essential to reach out to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. 

Injured Minors: If an injured minor is involved in a car accident in California, they are afforded additional time beyond the standard statute of limitations. The countdown for them to file a lawsuit does not begin until they reach legal adulthood – 18 years old – giving them until their 20th birthday to take legal action.

Lack of Mental Capacity: In situations where the injured party is deemed mentally incompetent, the statute of limitations can be tolled (paused) until they are restored to legal mental capacity. This means if an individual’s ability to make legally binding decisions is affected due to their mental state at the time of the accident, they will be granted additional time.

Discovery Rule: The discovery rule is an exception to the statute of limitations that can come into play when a car accident injury or damage is not immediately apparent. This rule may extend deadlines if symptoms manifest later. The deadline won’t start running until you discover your injury or should have reasonably discovered it.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible

After a car accident, acting quickly is incredibly important. Over time, evidence can deteriorate or become less accessible, which may weaken your position when seeking compensation for your injuries.

Witness recollections grow fuzzy and physical evidence will be removed from the scene or repaired. Surveillance footage – often crucial in proving fault – could be overwritten within days of an incident.

While two years might sound like a long time, it’s important to reach out to a Fresno accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident so you have the best chance of filing a successful claim. For help, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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