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Home » California Car Accident Lawyers » How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

Car accidents happen quickly, but they can have a long-lasting effect on your life. Millions of Americans sustain injuries in car collisions every year, often leaving them with extended recovery times and exorbitant medical bills. Other people lose loved ones in fatal crashes.

You probably know you can file insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits to obtain compensation for your damages. Still, you may not realize that you don’t have unlimited time to do so. Johnson Attorneys Group can assist you, ensuring that your claims meet the mandated deadlines.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

Laws called statutes of limitations mandate time frames for many kinds of legal actions, including filing claims and civil lawsuits after a car accident. These deadlines differ by state; sometimes, they vary according to the category of lawsuit in a single state. In California:

  • Personal injury claims: two years from the accident date
  • Wrongful death: two years from the date of death
  • Property damage: three years
  • Claims against a government agency or employee: six months to file a notice of claim and one year to file a lawsuit
  • Defective products: two years
  • Bad Faith Insurance: two years for tort claims and four years for breach of contract claims

Exceptions can apply, but if you miss the filing deadline, you probably won’t be able to seek compensation. Johnson Attorneys Group recommends contacting us soon after your accident so we can tell you the deadlines for your particular claim. Your car accident lawyer needs sufficient time to investigate and prepare your claim, so don’t wait too long.

Other advantages to contacting a lawyer quickly include:

  • Evidence is easier to gather.
  • Witnesses are more likely to remember the accident clearly.
  • The sooner your attorney starts working on your behalf, the sooner you can obtain compensation to relieve your financial stress.
  • We will advise you on things you should and shouldn’t do.

What Are the Different Kinds of Claims?

Car accident victims or their survivors may be able to file different types of claims to recover damages in California. Every accident is different, so you should ask your attorney about which claims you can file.

Personal Injury

You might be entitled to compensation if you sustained injuries due to a car crash. Many accidents have multiple parties who share a percentage of fault. After your lawyer assigns responsibility correctly, they can seek damages for you. California allows eligible parties to obtain three types of compensation in personal injury cases.

Economic Damages

You’ll probably face financial strain due to several factors after a car crash. Economic damages reimburse you for things like:

  • Medical expenses, including treatments, hospital stays, rehabilitation, medications, and medical equipment
  • Lost wages
  • Some daily expenses, such as costs associated with hiring caregivers

Because these items have specific costs, you’ll need to keep copies of your bills and receipts. Give these copies to your attorney, and we will use them to calculate your damages.

If your injuries are severe and require extensive and prolonged medical treatments and extended time away from work, you might qualify to receive compensation for these future expenses. Your lawyer will tell you if you’re eligible.

Non-Economic Damages

Injuries can take more than a physical toll. They can adversely affect your life, and non-economic damages compensate you for things such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Being unable to enjoy life fully
  • Anxiety, depression, and PTSD
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of consortium
  • Permanent disfigurement

These things affect everyone differently. Typically, the more severely they impact your life, the more compensation you may receive. Johnson Attorneys Group will tell you what your case is worth and help you seek maximum compensation.

Punitive Damages

Few cases qualify for punitive damages. The guilty party must have acted aggressively, maliciously, or with deliberate recklessness. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer rather than compensate victims.

Wrongful Death

Say that Joe sustained injuries in a car accident and qualifies to file a personal injury claim. If he dies because of his injuries, eligible survivors may qualify to file a wrongful death claim.

Property Damage

Any collision will likely damage your car; sometimes, your vehicle can’t be repaired and must be replaced. Other property can also be damaged:

  • Watches, jewelry, clothing, and other accessories
  • Phones or other personal belongings
  • Mailboxes, fences, and similar structures

You can ask for reimbursement for necessary repairs or replacements.


The statute of limitations for filing claims against government entities and employees is significantly shorter, and you must follow strict guidelines and protocols in these cases.

Defective Products

Automobiles have many intricate parts. If they fail, drivers may lose control and cause a collision. Defective tires and brakes are prime examples. If manufacturer defects or negligence causes an accident, ask your attorney if you can file a claim against that company.

Bad Faith Insurance

When policyholders pay insurance premiums, the carrier assumes a legal obligation to act in good faith. Examples of bad-faith actions include:

  • Deliberate attempts to avoid paying claims
  • Unreasonable delays
  • Failure to investigate a claim
  • Aggressive or abusive behaviors
  • Refusal to defend their policyholder

In California, there are two kinds of bad faith claims. Ask your attorney for more information.

What Should You Do After an Accident?

Besides looking after your health, you should also take steps to solidify a potential insurance claim or civil lawsuit.

  • Assess injuries: you’re probably not the only person injured in your crash. Try to help others after assessing your own injuries.
  • Call the police: you may have unique and critical information to provide, so don’t assume someone else has already reported your accident.
  • Gather evidence: law enforcement officers and other investigators will look for evidence later, but you can gather it at the scene while it’s fresh. Use your phone to record injuries, vehicle damage, the accident site, witness statements, and other pertinent details.
  • Undergo a medical evaluation: trained professionals can spot injuries that aren’t readily apparent, potentially saving your life. Your attorney will use the examination records to provide a baseline of your medical condition immediately following the crash.

Contact Johnson Attorneys Group as soon as possible so we can begin preparing your case.

What Do Car Accident Lawyers Do?

There are many aspects to handling a car accident claim. At Johnson Attorneys Group, we complete these tasks for you so you can recover from your injuries. We will:

  • Speak to insurance companies on your behalf
  • Explain your legal options
  • Provide advice and guidance
  • Submit paperwork for you
  • Investigate your accident
  • Negotiate a fair settlement or file a civil lawsuit if necessary to obtain reasonable compensation
  • Protect your rights
  • Ensure that you receive appropriate medical care

You’ll have 24/7 access to your legal team. We believe that every client deserves personal attention and respect. One of the most important things we provide is peace of mind.

Can Johnson Attorneys Group Help You?

Personal injury law is what we do. Because we focus on car accident cases, we are well-equipped to handle them successfully. Our 98.7% case success rate and more than $100 million in recovered settlements prove that. One of our 12 offices is located near you for your convenience.

You won’t pay us at Johnson Attorneys Group unless we win compensation for your damages. Request your free, no-obligation case review 24/7 by calling (800) 208-3538, using live chat, or submitting our contact form. Hablamos Espanol.

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