How Long Do I Have to File an Auto Accident Claim?

If you have been involved in a car accident in Orange County, you may have a lot of questions, including questions involving how long you have to file your claim. Delaying too long could put your ability to recover financial compensation for your injuries at risk.

Statute of Limitations in CA Car Accidents

In general, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in California is two years. Auto accident fall under personal injury law. Therefore, if you injured in a car accident on January 1, 2020, you must file your civil lawsuit for damages within two years of that date. There are exceptions to this rule and it is best to discuss your accident case with an experienced car accident lawyer.

If possible, you want to file the accident claim as soon after the accident as possible. Memories fade, witnesses move away, and physical evidence can disappear — all in two short years. Offering witnesses with compelling testimony and helpful physical evidence is often vital to proving your case.

Injuries After an Accident and Statutes of Limitations

In many Orange County accident cases, the accident victims do not realize right away that they have been injured. Adrenaline can cover a lot of types of pain. For example, you may be involved in an accident, and then discover two months later that you have severe back pain. If you visit a doctor and he or she believes the car accident caused the back pain, you may be able to bring a claim for damages for the back pain injury. However, in most cases, your time to do so starts at the point you discover the injury, and then, you have one year to bring a claim.

Exceptions to Statute of Limitations

As noted above, there are exceptions to California’s two-year statute of limitations rule. For instance, if you were hit by a government vehicle and are suing the government or a government agency for your injuries, you have six months to bring your claim. When suing the government or a government agency, an accident victim’s first step is to bring an “administrative claim” with the government office or agency. If the government denies your claim, you then have six months to file a lawsuit in civil court. Determining the statute of limitations in claims against the government (local or state) can be complicated, so consult with an experienced accident attorney for assistance.

Tolling of Statute of Limitations

Your attorney can also help you determine whether the statute of limitations has “tolled,” or paused. For example, the statute is “tolled” by law if the defendant is:

  • out of state
  • a minor
  • in prison

The toll on the statute ends when the condition is lifted (such as when the minor turns 18 or when the defendant is released from jail). Sometimes the statute can be tolled based on an agreement between the parties, and your attorney will advise you on whether to enter into a tolling agreement or not.

For more information on how to file an auto accident lawsuit before your statute of limitations runs out, contact the experienced accident lawyer at Dennis Law Group today.