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What is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in California?

Statute of Limitations in California

Between 2015 and 2016, many statistics for car accidents in California saw increases. The number of fatalities related to accidents went up by 7 percent. Fatalities involving impaired drivers, motorcyclists, and passengers not using seat belts all increased. Even fatalities involving cars vs. bicycles, cars vs. pedestrians, and teen drivers increased.

That’s just fatal accidents. The number of injuries also saw increases. In just Los Angeles County, the total number of injuries, including fatal injuries, increased by more than 9,000 people between those years.

When you’re in a car accident, you have certain responsibilities. You need to stay at the scene. You should call police if there is significant damage. Even an accident that seems minor can be costly, so it’s often best to get an accident report filed. You should see a doctor to make sure you don’t have bone fractures, muscle injuries, head injuries, or internal injuries.

It’s also important to know what your legal requirements are. These are the deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. In California, there are statutes of limitations you need to know and adhere to.

What Are the Statutes of Limitations Regarding Car Accidents?

When you’re looking into the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits after a car accident, there are several numbers you should know. The first is property damage. If an accident damaged your property or you damaged someone’s property during an accident, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is three years from the time the damage occurred.

For personal injury claims related to injuries you gained in the accident, you have two years to file a lawsuit. That’s if the injury was found immediately. If the injury doesn’t appear at first, it’s one year from the date the injury was discovered.

What if you went to the hospital following a crash and the doctor misdiagnosed your injury, operated on the wrong area, or gave you the wrong medication? A medical malpractice suit usually has a statute of limitations of one to three years. It’s one year following the discovery of an injury if it wasn’t immediately noticeable or three years from the date the injury took place.

If the claim is against the government, such as a car accident with a government official, there are different statutes of limitations. Personal property and personal injury cases must be filed within six months of the accident or six months from the date the agency denied your claim. If the agency fails to respond to you at all, you have two years from the date of the accident.

Things You Need to Do Immediately Following a Car Accident

The most important thing you can do after a car accident is to be seen by a medical professional. Even if you don’t remember hitting your head, you may have a concussion. You need to be assessed. Internal injuries can also be hard to notice at first. You’re in shock, adrenaline is rushing, and that can mask pain at the scene.

While you’re waiting for paramedics, find a witness who can take pictures of your vehicle, the area, and any other property that was damaged in the crash. Trade insurance information with the other driver, if applicable. If you’re not able to do this, get in touch with the police and ask for that information and any photos they took.

After you’ve had a doctor look you over, follow the doctor’s instructions. Go home and rest. Have someone with you if you do have a concussion. That way, the other person can alert EMTs if your condition does worsen.

Call your insurance agent when possible to report the claim. You may also need to call the other driver’s insurance company, but your insurance agent may take care of that for you. When you’re talking to an insurance agent, have policy numbers, police information, and share any information, such as photos with the agent. You will need to know where your car was taken so that an insurance adjuster can look at it and come up with an estimate for repairs or current value for a replacement.

Finally, call an attorney. The insurance company will come up with a settlement that will cover the cost of replacing or repairing your car. It will cover your medical expenses and income lost when you miss work. What it may not consider is the emotional effects following the accident. You may deal with panic attacks and be unable to drive. That can greatly impact your quality of life. Don’t agree to a settlement without first talking to an experienced personal injury attorney in California.

Don’t let a car accident overload you with anxiety and stress. Most importantly, don’t miss important deadlines if you plan to file a lawsuit against another driver. Call the experienced attorneys at KJT Law Group. A free case evaluation helps you understand your options and/or responsibilities following a car accident. Contact us now to consult with an expert.


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