What is California’s Statute of Limitations on Car Accidents?

Almost anytime you’re involved in a car accident that you believe is the result of someone else’s negligence, you can decide to file a personal injury claim. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, property damage, and any lost wages due to time off of work. One of the most important aspects of a personal injury claim is the statute of limitations. This is the deadline by which you must file your claim, otherwise you won’t be entitled to recover any monetary compensation, regardless of how strong your claim would be. If you were in a car accident and have questions about the statute of limitations or need help filing a claim, contact us today for a free consultation.

Statute of Limitations in California

In the state of California, you generally must file your claim within two years from the date of the car accident. While this sounds like a long time, this can pass rather quickly. Additionally, the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for your attorney to obtain critical evidence, such as witness testimony and potential video footage of the incident. It’s understandable to want to wait until your injuries are resolved to file a lawsuit so you know how much compensation you should be entitled to, but it’s always better to file sooner and then try to determine what compensation you’re entitled to for future injuries, treatment, and lost wages.

Exceptions To The Statute of Limitations

There are several circumstances that affect the statute of limitations, including the following:

Injury to Minors

If the accident involved a minor, the statute of limitations will be extended beyond the two-year period. Regardless of the severity of the injuries, the statute of limitations won’t begin until the victim turns 18. Therefore, a child who is injured at age 13 will be able to file a claim until they are 20 years old.

Unavailability of Negligent Party

If the party responsible for the accident cannot be located because they are out of state, the statute of limitations will not continue to run during that time period.

Defendant is Mentally Incompetent

If you are filing a personal injury claim and the defendant is mentally incompetent, the statute of limitations will only begin to run once the defendant is declared competent. Mental incompetence can be due to a mental illness or a physical injury, such as a coma or TBI.

Plaintiff is Mentally Incompetent

The statute of limitations will be extended if the plaintiff is mentally incompetent at the time of the defendant’s conduct. It will begin to run once the plaintiff is no longer considered to be mentally incompetent.

Delayed Discovery

If you were in a car accident but don’t discover right away that you were injured, the statute of limitations can be extended. Under the delayed discover exception, the statute of limitations is one year from the date that your injuries were discovered, unless you were aware of facts that would have caused a reasonable person to suspect that they had suffered harm related to the incident.

Property Damage

If you are filing a claim based on property damage alone, the statute of limitations is 3 years.

Plaintiff is in the Military

If the plaintiff is in the military performing service, the statute of limitations will be paused for the duration of their time in the military.

The statute of limitations often seems simple, but there can be some complicated exceptions. If you need help with a personal injury claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Los Angeles car accident lawyers for a free consultation.