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A car accident lawyer in Los Angeles says injured victims of crashes have only 2 years to file a claim in California. Here's why.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits in California

LOS ANGELES — California sees its fair share of car accidents each day, with many accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries or death.  According to a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles, substantial number of car accidents are caused by one or more driver’s negligent conduct.  Examples of negligent conduct include, among others, speeding, failing to signal, running a red light or stop sign, failing to yield, texting while driving (and other distracted driving behaviors), and drunk driving.  When a person gets injured or dies because of another’s negligent driving behavior, the victim and their family may decide to pursue legal action.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits in California

However, many injured victims and families of deceased victims don’t realize that there are time limitations on filing lawsuits, and every state adopts its own laws.  Under California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, an individual who sustains personal injuries because of another’s negligent conduct has two years from the date the injuries were sustained to file a lawsuit in court.

A car accident lawyer in Los Angeles says injury victims would have two years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit.  If a car accident victim sustains fatal injuries, legal representatives (such as a surviving spouse or adult child) may bring a claim for wrongful death no later than two years after the date of the victim’s death, which may be on the day of the car accident or at a later date.

In some cases, the following situations can extend the two-year statute of limitations period:

  • The car accident injury victim didn’t discover or learn that his or her injuries were caused by the car accident until a date later than when the car accident happened.  This exception is known as the “delayed discovery” rule.  With car accident injuries, most victims will know right away that the accident caused their injuries.  In some cases, if a person sustains injuries in a car accident and doesn’t have symptoms until a later date (such as with a head or back injury), he or she may be able to rely on the delayed discovery rule when applying the state’s statute of limitations law.  The delayed discovery rule doesn’t apply to wrongful death claims.
  • The car accident injury victim is a minor (under the age of 18) and therefore lacked the legal capacity to make decisions at the time of the accident.  Accident victims under the age of 18 have two years from the date of their eighteenth birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Relying on these exceptions to the general two-year deadline can be risky as courts are strict when interpreting the statute of limitations period for a given case.  As such, the best course of action is to speak with a California Car Accident Attorney as soon as possible after suffering injuries in an accident or losing a loved one who sustained fatal injuries.

The Consequences of Waiting Too Long to Speak with a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney

If injury victims wait more than two years after the date of a car accident to file a lawsuit, a judge will most likely dismiss the claim if no exceptions apply to that victim’s situation.  Missing the deadline for filing a lawsuit can be devastating as injury victims no longer have the ability to pursue legal action to recover compensation for their injuries.  It is better to be cautious and speak with an Los Angeles car accident attorney promptly following an accident.

Contact The Barnes Firm Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation

If you’ve sustained injuries in a California car accident, it’s essential to understand what your legal rights are and how much time you have to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.  At The Barnes Firm, our car accident lawyers in Los Angeles are standing by 24/7 to provide you with the guidance you need.  To schedule your free consultation to speak with a member of our legal team, contact The Barnes Firm today by calling (800) 800-0000 or by completing a free case evaluation form online.

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