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How much time do I have to take legal action after a car accident?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2023 | Car Accidents

Getting injured in a car accident is disruptive to your life in nearly every way. Coordinating with doctors, employers and others takes up a lot of time and energy, and everything is made more difficult by the pain and suffering you are experiencing. Because of this, you likely don’t want to even think about taking legal action until life has calmed down a bit.

It’s important to understand, however, that your ability to take legal action is time limited by law. In this post, we’ll discuss California’s statutes of limitation and why it is advantageous to seek legal representation as soon as reasonably possible.

Time limits can differ depending on the type of claim and the named defendant

The following are the three statutes of limitation to be aware of relevant to auto accidents. Keep in mind that these relate to pursuing litigation. Insurance companies might have differing deadlines for filing claims.

Statute of limitation in personal injury matters: 2 years from date of injury

You typically must file a legal claim within two years of the date that the accident occurred (for personal injury) or two years from the date of death (for wrongful death claims). In the rare event that an injury is not discovered until after the statute of limitations has expired, the victim has one year from the date that they discovered the injury.

Statute of limitation on property damage claims: 3 years from date of damage

If your vehicle or other property was damaged or destroyed by someone else, you have three years from the date that the damage/destruction occurred. If you are already pursuing a personal injury claim, however, you would likely include property damage in that claim as well.

Statute of limitation when the defendant is a government agency: 6 months from the date of injury and/or property damage

This is one of the most important deadlines to be aware of because it is so short. When the defendant in the case is the government or a government agency, you must file a claim with that agency within six months (with some exceptions). The government will then have 45 days to either accept or deny your claim. If denied, you can file a lawsuit, but typically must do so withing the sixth months following claim denial.

It is in your best interests to seek legal help right away

You may have up to two years to sue for personal injury, but you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Acting quickly will improve your chances of a successful outcome by ensuring that deadlines are met, witnesses are reachable and as much evidence as possible is preserved. Plus, once you get an attorney involved, they may be able to take over tasks that are currently consuming your time and energy, like communicating with insurers.

If you’ve been injured in a California car accident and don’t know where to turn, contact Woods Williford, P.C., to discuss your options in a free consultation. Our attorneys bring decades of legal experience to each case, and we will work tirelessly to help you claim the compensation you need and deserve.