How Long After a Car Accident Can I Sue?

When you are caught up in a car accident and see how your medical bills pile up, and your injuries take some time to heal, preventing you from working, it is only natural to want justice.


When it comes to car accidents in California, if someone was injured or killed, or the crash resulted in more than $1,000 in property damage, the victim should notify the California DMV within ten days after the accident occurred.


According to car accident lawyers, you should sue the at-fault party in a car accident within six months of the event. You can sue even later, but this time frame is generally more advantageous. Here is what you should know about suing for car accidents in California.


Suing for Car Accidents in California


When you report the car accident to the DMV, you should note that it’s not the same as suing for damages. After all, car accidents affect us emotionally and physically, and victims can be compensated for both.


If the at-fault driver or insurance company refuses to pay for damages, you should file a lawsuit. It would be best if you didn’t worry about claiming because personal injury cases rarely get to court. Even if they do, with a good lawyer by your side, there is nothing to fear.


A personal injury lawyer knows exactly how to deal with your claim. They will compile a strong case against the at-fault party by gathering evidence, police reports, medical reports, and witness statements, or they can even hire accident reconstruction experts and much more.


When the at-fault party sees this, especially their insurance company, they will both know that going to trial won’t be in their favor and will be inclined to make a settlement offer. Your lawyer will establish how much you are really owed in damages, including economic and non-economic damages.


Economic damages refer to injuries, lost wages, future medical expenses, property damage, and more. In contrast, non-economic damages include:


  • Emotional anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities
  • Loss of consortium and other subjective compensations.


This is why if you are considering suing for a car accident in California, you shouldn’t let the other party know about your intentions before consulting with a lawyer. If you let them know beforehand, they might make you an offer below what you are truly owed. 


California’s Statute of Limitations on Car Accidents


Even though in California, you should sue at least within six months of the car crash, according to the state’s statute of limitations, you can pursue legal damages within two years. This applies to both personal injury claims and wrongful death claims.


Wrongful death claims refer to situations where a family member died due to the injuries sustained following an accident. It is very important to file your case before the statute of limitations expires. 


Suppose you file for damages after the statute of limitations. In that case, your case will most certainly be denied, and you won’t receive compensation. If the person you intend to file a claim against is out of state, insane, or in prison, your deadline can be extended. 


Regarding property damage, the statute of limitations in California is three years. Regardless of how recent your car accident occurred or if you missed the deadline to file your claim, you should still consult with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your options.


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