How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

lawyer discussing legal matters with client

In the aftermath of a car accident, it’s natural to have questions regarding the timeline for filing a personal injury claim. The process can vary depending on factors including the jurisdiction and the circumstances surrounding the incident. Generally, it’s essential to initiate the claims process promptly to put yourself in the best position to recover maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.


Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in California

How long after a car accident can you claim injury? Understanding the time constraints is crucial when pursuing a personal injury claim after a car accident. In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is typically two years from the date of the auto accident.

This means that individuals have a two-year window from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for injuries sustained. If you do not file your claim within the allocated period, you may lose your right to pursue financial compensation for your damages. Therefore, you wouldn’t be able to file a lawsuit in the future.


Are There Exceptions To the Statute of Limitations?

While the statute of limitations sets a general timeframe for filing a personal injury claim, certain exceptions may apply in California. It’s crucial to be aware of these exceptions to ensure your rights are protected.

The Discovery Rule

The discovery rule is an exception that extends the statute of limitations if the injury or its cause is not immediately apparent. If injuries surface or the cause becomes apparent after the initial accident, the two-year clock may start from the date of discovery rather than the accident date.

Time Frame for Personal Injury Claims against a Government Entity

When filing a personal injury claim against a government agency in California, a different set of rules and timelines come into play. It’s essential to understand these variations to navigate the process effectively.

Government claims typically require the filing of a notice within six months from the date of the incident. The government should respond within 45 days. If the government entity rejects the claim, there’s a six-month extension after the denial letter was mailed to file a claim.

Statute of Limitations When It Comes to Minors in the State of California

The statute of limitations may be delayed or “tolled” when the injured victim is a minor. Therefore, the statute of limitations would be tolled until the minor reaches the age of 18. After a minor turns 18, they have two years from their 18th birthday to file a legal claim.


When is the Best Time to File a Car Accident Claim in California?

Timing is crucial when it comes to filing a car accident claim in California. While the statute of limitations sets the maximum timeframe, initiating the process at the right time can significantly impact the outcome of your case.

Filing a claim promptly after the accident is advisable for several reasons, including the preservation of evidence, witness recollection, and the ability to obtain medical records efficiently.


Reasons to File a Personal Injury Claim Promptly

motor vehicle accident

Filing car accident claims promptly can significantly impact the success of your case. Here are important reasons to act promptly after a car accident:

Preservation of Important Evidence

Witness Testimonies – Witnesses’ memories are sharpest shortly after an event. Filing your personal injury lawsuit promptly allows your car accident lawyer to gather more accurate and reliable witness testimonies.

Physical Evidence – Skid marks, property damage, and other physical evidence can fade away or be tampered with if not documented promptly.

Prompt Medical Care

Seeking medical attention immediately after an accident is crucial for both your health and your claim. If you delay medical treatment, the other party’s insurance company may try to claim that your injuries weren’t that serious.

Auto Insurance Company Tactics

Insurance companies may exploit delays in filing to dispute the severity of injuries or claims that resulted from a subsequent incident.


Proving Fault in a California Car Accident

car accident

Determining fault is a pivotal aspect of a personal injury claim. Understanding the factors that contribute to establishing liability is crucial in pursuing compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident.

Documentation is Key

  • Notify your own insurance company promptly about the auto accident.
  • Keep thorough records of all medical treatments, expenses, and diagnoses related to the accident.
  • Document lost wages, property damage, and other financial losses incurred due to the accident.

Legal Representation

  • If negotiations with the other driver’s insurance company are unsuccessful, having legal representation can be crucial in pursuing your case in court.
  • Understanding your rights and options through a consultation with an attorney ensures you make informed decisions throughout the insurance claim process.

Gather Strong Evidence

  • Take pictures of the car accident scene, vehicle damage, and any visible injuries.
  • Obtain a copy of the police report, as it may contain information regarding fault.

Collect Witness Testimonies

  • Collect contact information from witnesses and request their statements to strengthen your case.


Do I Need A Personal Injury Lawyer To File A Claim?

While it’s possible to file an insurance claim without legal representation, having an experienced attorney can significantly enhance your chances of a successful outcome. 

  • Personal injury laws can be complex. An experienced car accident lawyer can protect your rights and help you navigate the claims process.
  • A car accident lawyer can determine the viability of your claim and the best course of action.
  • An experienced lawyer can help you calculate and prove your damages. If your personal injury case goes to court, a car accident attorney can help you build a strong claim and represent you in a trial.
  • Car accident attorneys are skilled negotiators who can negotiate with insurance companies and fight for fair compensation.


Common Injuries Resulting From Car Accidents

Car accidents can result in severe injuries. In 2021, there was a 7.6% increase in traffic accident fatalities. Understanding the common injuries associated with car accidents is essential for both prompt medical treatment and the pursuit of financial compensation.

Whiplash – Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden, forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck. These kinds of injuries often occur in rear-end accidents. Symptoms can include neck pain, stiffness, and headaches.

Fractures – Fractures, especially of the limbs and ribs, are prevalent in high-impact collisions. Prompt medical attention is crucial to diagnose and treat fractures effectively.

Brain Injuries – Concussions result from a blow to the head, causing temporary disruption of brain function. If untreated, concussions can lead to long-term cognitive issues.

Sprains and Strains – Soft tissue injuries, including sprains and strains, are common and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms may manifest hours or days after the accident.

Psychological Trauma – Car accidents can cause psychological trauma, leading to conditions like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Get the Compensation You Deserve

After a car crash, accident victims may be able to pursue compensation for their injuries and damages. Taking the appropriate steps, such as filing a claim promptly, gathering evidence, and considering legal representation, can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Time sensitivity is essential in personal injury lawsuits.

If you suffered injuries in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, our personal injury attorneys will help you prove liability and hold the at-fault party responsible. At Armstrong Accident Lawyers, we are dedicated to helping car accident victims pursue just compensation for their injuries and losses. Our award-winning personal injury law firm maintains a 99% success rate and has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.

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