Statute of Limitations in California: When to Hire an Accident Lawyer

Accidents, including motorcycle crashes, can happen anytime. According to California’s SWITRS summary, a total of 35,375 motorcycle injuries and fatalities happened in California from 2020 to 2022. Los Angeles has the highest cases with a total of 8,399 over the past three years.

When an accident occurs, knowing your rights and responsibilities under the state law is crucial. The statute of limitations in California plays a crucial role in determining when you can file a personal injury claim. Understanding these limitations can make a significant difference in your ability to seek compensation for your injuries and get the justice you deserve.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into California’s Statute of Limitations, when to hire an accident lawyer, and address frequently asked questions regarding this legal matter.

What is the Statute of Limitations in California?

The statute of limitations in California represents a critical legal deadline that dictates the time frame within which a lawsuit must be filed following an accident or injury. This law is designed to ensure timely and fair legal proceedings. In California, these limitations vary significantly based on the nature of the accident or injury, making it essential for individuals to be well-informed to safeguard their legal rights.

Key Variations in California’s Statute of Limitations

  1. Personal Injury: For personal injury claims, such as those resulting from motorcycle and auto accidents, slip and falls, or other similar incidents, the statute of limitations is typically two years from the date of the injury.
  2. Property Damage: If the lawsuit involves property damage, like in the case of vehicle damage in a car accident, you have up to three years from the date of the damage to file an accident claim.
  3. Wrongful Death: In wrongful death cases, you generally have two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.

Importance of Understanding These Timeframes

  • Preserving Legal Rights: Failing to file a lawsuit within these time frames typically results in the loss of the right to seek compensation for your injuries or damages.
  • Evidence Integrity: As time passes, evidence may become less reliable, and witnesses’ memories may fade. The statute of limitations helps ensure that cases are brought to court while evidence is still fresh.
  • Encouraging Prompt Legal Action: These time limits incentivize individuals to pursue legal action promptly and avoid unnecessary delays.
statute of limitations in california

Special Circumstances on Statute of Limitations

There are exceptions to these rules in certain situations.

Injured Person is a Minor

The statute of limitations might not begin until they reach the age of majority – when the child reaches 18 years of age. Additionally, in cases where the injury was not immediately discovered, the statute of limitations may begin from the date of discovery.

Claims Against Government Entities

Let’s expound more on filing a claim against a government agency. This special claim is also known as an “administrative claim.” For cases involving personal injury or damage to personal property, you have to file your administrative claim within 6 months from the date of the injury, except for a few exceptions, as per California Government Code section 911.2.

The government has 45 days to reply once you’ve filed your claim. If the government agency rejects your claim during this period, you have 6 months to file a lawsuit in court from the date when the denial was sent to you, either by mail or personal delivery. If you don’t receive a rejection letter, you have 2 years to file your claim from the day the incident happened. However, it’s not advisable to rely on having 2 years to file your claim.

The rules regarding the time limits for government claims can be complex. If you’re uncertain about the time you have, it is beneficial to have a legal representation to handle your case.

When Should You Hire an Accident Lawyer?

Hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer can be crucial to ensuring you meet the deadlines imposed by the Statute of Limitations in California and that you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Here are some scenarios in which it’s advisable to consult with an attorney:

  • Complex Cases: If your case is complex or involves multiple parties, it’s best to have an experienced attorney navigate the legal complexities.
  • Severe Injuries: Serious injuries can have long-term consequences, and you may require ongoing medical treatment. An attorney can help you assess the full extent of your damages and negotiate for fair compensation.
  • Disputes with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies often try to minimize payouts. If you’re facing resistance from an insurance company, an attorney can help protect your rights and negotiate on your behalf.
  • Uncertainty About the Statute of Limitations: If you’re unsure about the applicable statute of limitations for your case, consulting with an attorney can provide clarity and ensure you don’t miss critical deadlines.

FAQs about Statute of Limitations in California

Can the statute of limitations be extended?

In some rare circumstances, the statute of limitations may be extended, such as in cases involving minors or delayed discovery of injuries. Consult with an attorney to determine if your case qualifies for an extension.

What happens if I miss the statute of limitations deadline?

If you miss the deadline, you may lose your right to file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation. It’s crucial to act promptly and consult with an attorney if you’re uncertain about the timeframe.

Is it possible to settle a case before the statute of limitations expires?

Yes, many personal injury cases are resolved through settlements before reaching the courtroom. However, it’s still essential to consult with an attorney to ensure any settlement offer adequately compensates you for your injuries.

What do I need to file a claim and avoid missing the deadline?

To file a claim and avoid missing the claim deadline, you should take the following steps:

  1. Gather Evidence: Collect all relevant evidence related to your case, such as medical records, police reports, photos of the accident scene, and witness statements.
  2. Consult an Attorney: Seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure you meet all deadlines.
  3. Complete Necessary Forms: Make sure to fill out all required forms accurately and promptly. Your attorney can assist you with this.
  4. Stay Informed: Keep track of important dates and deadlines associated with your case. Your attorney will help you stay on top of these.

By following these steps, you can file your claim correctly and avoid missing the limitations deadline, thus preserving your right to seek a fair settlement for your injuries.

File a Claim After A Motorcycle Accident

Understanding the statute of limitations in California is vital when dealing with accidents and personal injuries. Knowing when to hire an accident lawyer can help protect your rights and increase your chances of receiving fair compensation.

In the unfortunate event that an individual sustains injuries due to a motorcycle accident, the need to pay extensive medical bills becomes apparent. Initiating a personal injury claim can offer numerous advantages to the accident victim. Enlisting the assistance and guidance of a reputable personal injury attorney can significantly bolster the strength of the legal claim.

If you have questions or need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer to guide you through the process and help you seek justice.

Motorcyclist Attorney is committed to helping victims of motorcycle accidents secure the maximum compensation they deserve and receive the medical care they need.We work on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t need to pay us a single cent unless we win! Contact us at (844) 284-9437 for a free case consultation. We are available 24/7!


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