Being involved in a car accident is a frightening experience, especially if the accident was very serious. Assessing the full amount of damage that was done takes time, and not all injuries are apparent right away. However, you only have so long in which to file a personal injury claim for damages. If you exceed this time limit, known as the statute of limitations, you waive your right to file a lawsuit. Here’s what you need to know about the statute of limitations on California car accidents.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Under Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 335.1, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim (or any other personal injury claim) is two years. While filing a claim before the full extent of your injuries are known might not be a good idea, it’s critical that you file before the two year time limit is up.
Property Damage Statute of Limitations
Under Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 338, the statute of limitations for filing a property damage claim, such as damage to a vehicle that occurred during a car accident, is three years. This means that even if the statute of limitations is up for filing a personal injury claim, you may still be able to file a claim for property damage for the same accident.
These statutes do not apply to insurance claims. However, it is in your best interest to file the insurance claim as soon as possible. If the settlement negotiations fall through and you are unable to secure a settlement that is enough to cover the damages you’ve incurred, you’ll want to have plenty of time left to file a personal injury and/or property damage lawsuit. If you wait to file the insurance, you may get a paltry settlement offer and be outside the statute of limitations to file an injury or property damage claim.
When to Contact an Attorney
One of the most important things to do after getting into a car accident is to contact an experienced auto accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you get the ball rolling when communicating with your insurance company and can help you file a personal injury or property damage claim before the statute of limitations has expired.
Contact Matson Injury Law today for more information about how to file a claim by calling (626) 792-1900 or (626) 773-6965.