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Statute of Limitations on California Car Accidents

Smashed front of truck after car accident

The state of California had over 3,000 fatal car crashes in 2019. There are thousands more motor vehicle accidents every day that result in some form of injury or property damage across the state.

If you happen to get into a car accident and sustain an injury, your first priority is to heal and recover. That can take a significant amount of time and energy before you feel normal again. You might not be able to focus on anything but your recovery process.

But be warned. The statute of limitations of your potential personal injury or property damage claim might come and go before you can do anything about it.

Do not let this happen to you. It is important that you learn about statutes of limitations and what they are, especially if you live in California.

We have created a complete guide on everything you need to know about the statute of limitations for car accidents in California.

How Long Are the Statute of Limitations in California for Car Accidents?

The statute of limitations varies from state to state, so it is very important to know the statute of limitations for the state you live in or are visiting. You never know when the information will come in handy.

If you get into a car accident in California and sustain a serious injury, you have a good chance of filing a lawsuit for your injuries. The statute of limitations in a car accident is 2 years in the state of California to sue for injuries.

If you are a minor that sustained injuries in a car accident, you have all the way up until they turn 18 years old, and then 2 years after that to file a lawsuit.

If a loved one has died as the result of a car accident, then you as a family member also have two years to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party.

How Long Are the Statute of Limitations in California for Property Damage?

What happens if you get into a car accident and receive no injuries or pain of any kind, but your car has major damage? Do you still have 2 years to report the damage?

You will be happy to know that you have a lot more time.

The statute of limitations for a car accident as it relates to property damage is different than for a personal injury or wrongful death claim. You have 3 years after a motor vehicle accident to file a claim for property damage.

Be careful, however. Some people mix up when the clock starts after an accident. Is it after the accident itself? Or, is it after you file the insurance claim?

Save yourself from the potential of trouble and know this. The clock starts to tick after the accident itself. Missing it by even one day could negate your property damage claim.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

Like with anything in life, there are always exceptions, especially when it comes to an injury sustained from a car accident. What happens if you get into a car accident and you have no injuries at first? The two years pass by when, all of a sudden, you start to experience back or neck pain (or some other type of pain).

If your physician determines that the cause of your newfound pain is a result of the car accident you were in more than 6 months ago, not to worry.

You can still file a personal injury claim even if it has been longer than 6 months. But now you have a new statute of limitations timeline you have to follow.

You need to file your claim within 6 months of discovering your injuries. Be sure to get any appropriate medical records from your doctor to help document the timeline.

Does It Matter if I Do Not Have Insurance?

If you do not have insurance, you might feel uncomfortable filing a claim, even if you receive a serious injury or property damage. However, if you are innocent and not at fault for the accident, you have every right to file a claim.

In this instance, it is good to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help you navigate the complicated legal landscape of filing claims when not having car or health insurance.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer?

Not everyone needs to hire a lawyer after a car accident. If you have no injuries and you were involved in a fender bender, chances are you do not need a lawyer.

But if you experience injuries that prevent you from living your life as normal, require hospitalization or medical attention, or cause long-term pain and suffering, you should definitely hire a lawyer.

If your car has major damage and costs thousands of dollars to repair, you should call an attorney.

The benefits of hiring a lawyer in serious cases are obvious. They can help you win a cash settlement to pay for your medical bills, car repairs, and even living expenses if you are unable to work following the accident.

But in addition to that, hiring a lawyer after a car accident can help make sure that you do not miss the statute of limitations on your case. They will help you file the necessary paperwork so you do not have to.

They will also be sure to make sure legal action moves along in a timely manner as legal proceedings can sometimes drag on if inexperienced people try to take it on themselves.

What Do You Need to File A Claim?

If you are ready and prepared to file a personal injury claim or property damage claim following a motor vehicle, you want to be as prepared as you can be. Collect any evidence you can.

This evidence includes things like medical records of any injuries you have and any medical bills you received from caring for these injuries. Have photos of the car accident itself for property damage claims.

If you have had to miss any time at work because of your injuries or you were unable to drive to work, be sure to have documentation from your HR department or manager documenting this. Missed or lost wages can be compensated, but only if you provide proof.

Be proactive in gathering all these documents. Many times, it can take 2 to 4 weeks or 3 to 5 business days to receive the right documents. Do not leave anything to chance.

Any delays in getting the right documentation of insurance claims or medical records can cause you to miss the deadline of the statute of limitations.

What Happens if the Statute of Limitations Runs Out?

The sad story is that, once the statute of limitations runs out, you are no longer eligible to file a legal claim. As mentioned above, if you discover injuries after this period of time, you then have 6 months to file.

But in this case, it can be much harder to prove. You need solid evidence and medical documentation that proves it was the original car accident that caused the injuries. Insurance companies might try to claim you received the injuries in another event unrelated to the accident.

That is why it is critical you hire an attorney at this stage.

Can I Still Get a Settlement After a Car Accident?

Depending on the severity of the car accident, you might need assistance with medical bills and other living expenses. In this case, you need cash to help cover those bills.

Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is your best bet as it is tough to win without one. A personal injury attorney can help fight for you to win a cash settlement following your injury or property damage.

Reach Out Today to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney for Your Car Crash

Getting into a serious car accident can cause devastation physically, emotionally, and financially. Do not make it worse by letting the time expire before you can get compensated for your injuries and get justice for your pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one has recently been in a car accident and wants to file a personal injury claim, the time is now. You have to act quickly before the statute of limitations runs up on your claim. An experienced car accident attorney can help you organize your case.

If you live in the southern California area or the Sacramento area, reach out and call give us a call here at Heidari Law Group. We have helped many get 7-figure settlements following their motor vehicle accident. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys can help you do the same. Get a free case evaluation today and a member of our legal team will be in touch.

***Disclaimer: This blog is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this blog, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.

Sam Heidari

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Sam Heidari

Sam Ryan Heidari

Sam Heidari is the founding principal of Heidari Law Group, a law firm specializing in personal injury, wrongful death, and employment law with offices in California and Nevada. Sam Heidari has been practicing law for over 11 years and handles a wide range of cases including car accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination, and product liability. The Heidari Law Group legal firm is known for its comprehensive approach, handling cases from initial consultation through to final judgment. Sam Heidari is dedicated to community involvement and advocacy for civil liberties.

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