Most people who are injured in a car accident are not immediately thinking about filing a lawsuit against the other party. It may take a little while for the shock and emotional trauma to wear off, while others are primarily concerned with getting through their medical treatment and figuring out how they will cover all their immediate expenses. Contacting an Orange County personal injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Like other types of litigation, personal injury claims are subject to a time limit known as the statute of limitations. What this means is that you must file a lawsuit before a certain date to preserve the statute and continue negotiations or start prepping the case for trial. Depending on the type of case, the statute can be anywhere from one year up to 10 years.
How Long After an Accident Can You Sue?
Each state has different rules on how long you have to file a lawsuit. The idea of a statute of limitations is to create fairness when it comes to filing a lawsuit. This prevents one party from hanging an unresolved legal dispute over someone’s head for the rest of their lives.
In most cases, you have two years to bring a lawsuit in California for damages related to an injury car accident. Some of the different personal injury claims that are subject to the two-year statute of limitations include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Large truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle and motorcycle accidents
- Dog bites
- Slip and fall accidents
- Intentional injuries like assault and/or battery
- Defective products
Other claim types have a different statute of limitations. For example, libel and slander are only one year, while injury to personal property is three years. Another example is medical malpractice that is only one year, but a breach of contract is up to four years.
The important aspect to understanding statutes of limitations is to recognize on what day does the clock start ticking? In most cases, the statute of limitations starts to run from the date of the accident, but there are limited scenarios where the date of discovery is used.
Common Reasons Plaintiffs Miss the Statute of Limitations
If you can’t answer the question “how long do I have to sue after an accident?”, that’s even more reason to contact a knowledgeable Orange County personal injury attorney. Personal injury attorneys understand the applicable statutes very well and will ensure that a lawsuit is filed on your behalf before the deadline if the case is still in negotiations. If you did not retain an attorney, don’t mistakenly assume that because you are currently in negotiations with the other side that the statute is protected. If you don’t file timely, the insurance company or defense attorney will no longer continue negotiations as there is no legal obligation to do so.
Other reasons claimants give for not contacting an attorney early on include:
- No time as they are too focused on immediate medical attention;
- Concerned they do not have a winning case;
- Worried that speaking with a lawyer may increase their stress levels;
- Too emotionally traumatized; or
- They only come to realize the extent of their injuries months, or maybe even years later.
Retaining an Orange County Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact the skilled car accident lawyers at RMD Law right away at (949) 326-5000 and let us fight to get you the compensation you deserve.