Car Accidents

An unexpected car accident can turn your life upside down. Physical injuries can result in substantial medical bills and debilitating pain.

Emotional trauma can prevent you from enjoying your life. Financial expenses related to your accident can add up quickly and put you in a very difficult situation. The aftermath of your accident can be even worse if you’re unable to work and generate an income.

Fortunately, car accident victims can recover compensation if someone else is to blame. However, the opportunity to get the money you deserve won’t last forever. There are certain time limits and constraints on when you can pursue compensation. The amount of time you have will really depend on how you want to proceed.

You have two primary options for recovering money after an accident: filing an insurance claim or pursuing a civil lawsuit.

How Much Time Do I Have to File an Insurance Claim After My Car Accident?

Is another driver responsible for causing your accident? If so, you can file a personal injury claim with that driver’s insurance company. (This is, of course, assuming the driver is properly insured, as required by California state law.) It’s important to contact the driver’s insurance company as soon as you can after your accident.

Companies may refuse to accept your claim if it is not filed within a “reasonable” amount of time after your accident. The specific amount of time you’ll have will depend on the insurance company and the insured driver’s policy. The safest option is to notify the insurer right away.

When Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A statute of limitations is a window of time in which a legal claim can be filed. In California, the statute of limitations for civil actions based on negligence is two years. This means that you will have two years from the date of your car accident to file a claim and initiate the civil lawsuit process.

What happens if you don’t file your claim before the statute of limitations expires? In most situations, your right to take legal action will no longer exist. As a result, you’ll be unable to get the money you deserve from the person who caused your accident and injuries. You’ll be responsible for covering your costs.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations

There are certain exceptions to the statute of limitations. You may have additional time to file your claim if one of the following exceptions applies to your case.

Under the Age of 18: The statute of limitations can be tolled – or paused – until an accident victim turns 18. Once their 18th birthday arrives they’ll have two years to file a lawsuit against the defendant.

Reasonable Delay in Discovery of Injury: You will not be punished if, despite reasonable efforts, there was a delay in the discovery of your injury. You’ll have two years from the date you discover your injury to file a claim.

Impossibility: Victims won’t be penalized for missing the filing deadline if, due to circumstances beyond their control, filing a claim was impossible. For example, let’s say that an accident victim is in a coma for two years because of the extent of his injuries. When he wakes up, the statute of limitations will have expired. He’ll have additional time to file a claim due to impossibility.

Defendant Can’t Be Located: There must be two parties involved in a lawsuit – plaintiffs and defendants. What happens if the defendant in your case is incarcerated, out of state, or can’t be located? The statute of limitations will be tolled until the defendant can participate in the case. You won’t miss out on your opportunity to get compensation just because the defendant is in hiding.

Claims Against the Government

Did you know that you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries from the government? The government may be liable if a dangerous road condition contributed to your crash. If the agency knew, or should have known about the hazard, but failed to do anything, you can demand compensation.

However, claims against the government are unique. In fact, the statute of limitations for government claims is accelerated. You must file a claim with the government within 6 months of your accident.

It’s always best to contact an experienced car accident lawyer if you’ve been involved in a crash. Your attorney will explain your options and help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Perhaps most importantly, your lawyer will preserve your claim by making sure that it is filed within the applicable statute of limitations. Get legal advice by visiting if you have been in a car accident.