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Seasoned Sacramento Injury Attorneys

Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Car Accident Injury Claim?


You typically have two years from the date of a car accident to file a personal injury claim. Car accidents can be traumatic and disruptive, often resulting in significant physical, emotional, and financial burdens. One crucial aspect for victims to consider is the timeframe within which they must file a claim to seek compensation for their injuries. In California, this period is governed by a legal concept known as the statute of limitations.

The Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. This deadline is designed to ensure that cases are presented while evidence is fresh and to provide a degree of certainty for all parties involved.

In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including those arising from car accidents, is generally two years from the date of the accident. This means that if you wish to seek compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident, you must file your claim within two years of the incident.

Exceptions to the Two-Year Rule

While the two-year statute of limitations is the general rule, there are several exceptions that can extend or shorten this period. Understanding these exceptions is crucial for ensuring that your claim is filed in a timely manner.

Discovery of Injuries

In some cases, injuries from a car accident may not be immediately apparent. If an injury is discovered after the date of the accident, the statute of limitations may begin from the date the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered, rather than the date of the accident itself. This is known as the “discovery rule.”

Claims Involving Minors

If the injured party is a minor (under 18 years old), the statute of limitations does not begin until the minor turns 18. This means that a minor has until their 20th birthday to file a personal injury claim, regardless of when the accident occurred.

Government Claims

If the car accident involves a government entity, such as a city bus or a government vehicle, special rules apply. In California, claims against government entities must be filed within six months of the accident. This shorter timeframe requires prompt action and attention to ensure that your right to compensation is preserved.

The Importance of Timely Filing

Filing a car accident injury claim within the statute of limitations is crucial for several reasons. First, failing to file within the designated period typically results in the loss of your right to seek compensation through the court system. Courts are generally strict about adhering to these deadlines, and exceptions are rare.

Additionally, timely filing helps preserve evidence. Over time, evidence can be lost, and memories can fade, making it more challenging to prove your case. By acting promptly, you increase the likelihood that key evidence, such as witness statements and medical records, will be available and reliable.

Contact a Lawyer for Help

Because your car accident injury claim has an expiration date, it’s important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. A personal injury attorney can provide the experienced guidance and services you need to ensure that your claim is properly prepared and filed before the statute of limitations expires.

Contact Smolich and Smolich today to get the help you need to pursue compensation for your car accident injuries.