How Long Do I Have to File My California Car Accident Claim?

Home  »  Car Accidents   »   Do I Really Have Two Years to File My California Car Accident Injury Lawsuit?

Do I Really Have Two Years to File My California Car Accident Injury Lawsuit?

Do I Really Have Two Years to File My California Car Accident Injury Lawsuit?

Dec 21, 2022

Car accidents are on the rise across the nation, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirming seven consecutive quarters of year-to-year increases in traffic fatalities since the third quarter of 2020. And in California, where car accidents are a daily occurrence that can impact even the most cautious drivers, traffic deaths have also increased significantly.

What is the Deadline for Filing a California Car Accident Civil Claim/Lawsuit?

An estimated 3,246 traffic fatalities were recorded across the state of California during the first nine months of 2021. That figure represents a 17% increase from the same time period in 2020, according to recently-released NHTSA data.

While the above statistics pertain to deadly car accidents, the vast majority of motor vehicle collisions involve injuries for both drivers and passengers. When you’re injured in a California car accident, there is a limited window of time known as a statute of limitations dictating when you must file a claim for financial compensation.

Below we will look at how long you have to file your California car accident injury civil claim. We’ll also provide details on what types of damages may be included in your cash settlement and include information on how to file your claim with Dordulian Law Group’s experienced Los Angeles car accident attorneys.

What is the Deadline for Filing a California Car Accident Civil Claim/Lawsuit?

A statute of limitations is legalese that indicates the deadline you have for filing a lawsuit. Specifically for civil claims, a lawsuit must be filed within a certain period of time. As a general rule, once the statute of limitations expires, you as the injured victim no longer have a valid claim for financial compensation (what’s known as ‘damages’). Unfortunately, even if you have serious and legitimate injuries which are the result of another driver’s negligence or carelessness, failing to file your claim within the standard statute of limitations can bar your ability to secure justice under the law.

That said, car accident injury victims in California typically have two years from the date of an incident to file a civil lawsuit seeking to recover financial compensation. In other words, you most likely have two years from the date that your car crash occurred to file a claim that may help you recover compensation for losses such as medical bills, lost wages, etc.

It should be noted that this standard two-year statute of limitations for California car accidents applies to bodily injuries. For property damages – meaning the impact to your vehicle, your home (if applicable), etc. – the statute of limitations is typically three years from the date of the incident.

However, as we will discuss in greater detail below, waiting to file your car accident injury claim is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

Should I File My California Car Accident Injury Claim Immediately?

It is literally impossible to overstate the answer to the above question, which is a resounding “YES.”

Yes, you absolutely should file your car accident injury civil claim as soon as possible after the crash occurs. Why? Let’s count the ways:

  • Filing a prompt car accident injury claim ensures that the at-fault party or his/her insurance company can’t argue that your case has no merit. Insurance companies are in business to make money, and that means reducing payouts for car accident injury claims whenever possible. Accordingly, if you wait to file your claim, the insurance company will almost certainly argue that it “isn’t that serious,” “doesn’t deserve a maximum cash settlement,” etc.
  • Filing a prompt claim ensures that the version of events is fresh in not only your memory, but also potentially in the memories of any witnesses to the accident who can help support your case.
  • Filing a prompt claim ensures that your car accident lawyer has the appropriate time needed to gather any evidence, conduct any research, interview any witnesses, and counter any claims made by the lawyers representing the at-fault party or insurance provider.

Unfortunately, at Dordulian Law Group (DLG), we see a number of valid car accident injury cases where the victim waits for months or even a year or more to file a claim. This hinders our ability to recover the victim the maximum financial compensation he or she deserves.

Accordingly, it is strongly recommended that you file your California car accident claim immediately after receiving a thorough medical examination to ensure that your health and well-being are not in jeopardy.

What’s the Most Important Step to Take After a California Car Accident Injury?

What's the Most Important Step to Take After a California Car Accident Injury?

Filing a timely civil claim for damages is extremely important. But it’s not, technically, the most critical step in the car accident injury claims process.

Step number one, under any circumstances, is to receive medical treatment after a car accident injury. Even if you feel “not too bad” or “just a little sore” after a car accident, you should absolutely undergo a complete medical examination by a licensed physician immediately after the crash occurs. Why? Again, let’s count the ways:

  • Undergoing an immediate medical exam after a car accident ensures that your health is addressed and no underlying or serious (but not necessarily visible) injuries exist. Injuries like whiplash, back pain, head trauma, or concussions can occur immediately but not manifest symptoms for days or even weeks. But by getting a medical exam completed immediately after your car accident, you’ll be able to rule out or identify any serious injuries (and get them treated accordingly).
  • Undergoing an immediate medical exam ensures that an official record of your injuries is created. This is critical evidence that will help support your car accident injury claim and will help increase the odds of you recovering maximum financial compensation for all applicable damages.
  • Undergoing an immediate medical exam ensures that the at-fault party or insurance provider is unable to argue that your injuries are not “serious” enough to warrant financial compensation, or that you actually suffered those injuries due to another cause other than the car crash. If you wait even a few days to get a medical screening completed, the insurance company will undoubtedly argue that your injuries could have been caused by any number of incidents – maybe you were working out and strained your back, maybe you were doing housework and injured yourself that way, etc. But by having the supporting medical records available, your car accident lawyer will be able to prove your claim and fight to recover the maximum cash settlement you need to make a full recovery.

What Damages May be Included in My California Car Accident Cash Settlement?

Car accident civil claims are filed in an effort to help the injured victim recover compensation for damages that often lead to substantial losses. These damages can be both economic and non-economic depending on the nature of your car accident injury case.

Some of the car accident damages we at DLG may attempt to pursue on your behalf include:

  • Hospital expenses
  • Medical care costs (past and future)
  • Lost wages
  • Reduced future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma or psychological harm
  • Diminished quality of life due to your injuries/accident
  • Punitive damages
  • Property damages

At DLG, our experienced and proven California car accident lawyers will fight aggressively to recover all applicable damages for your claim – including those that are often hard to prove and quantify, such as pain and suffering or emotional turmoil.

We’ve helped countless car accident victims secure maximum financial compensation for their claims, obtaining more than $100,000,000.00 on behalf of clients in settlements and verdicts.

When you’re injured in a Los Angeles, California, car accident, don’t settle for just any attorney who may jeopardize your right to a maximum cash settlement. Choose the very best car accident attorneys in California – get the DLG Advantage.

Contact a Los Angeles, California, Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is a top-rated, results-oriented, and proven car accident and personal injury firm with more than 25 years of experience securing maximum financial compensation for our clients. We have helped injured drivers and passengers recover multi-million dollar cash settlements and verdicts while maintaining a near-perfect 98% success record.

DLG was founded by former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian, who has extensive experience including more than 100 jury trial victories.
At DLG, our car accident injury lawyers are dedicated to fighting aggressively on your behalf to secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve.

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

With our No Win/No Fee Guarantee, you never have to worry about up-front costs or out of pocket expenses. If we don’t recover financial compensation in the form of a cash settlement or verdict for your car accident injury claim, you will not pay a penny for our services. Either we secure a maximum damages award for your case or you don’t pay – it’s that simple.

If you’ve suffered an injury due to negligence in a California car accident, you owe it to yourself to recover the greatest possible financial compensation available. Contact a member of our team today 24/7 via 818-322-4056. We’re here to answer any questions you have, to support you through the legal process from day one, and to fight aggressively on your behalf to ensure that justice is served.

Go See Sam