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How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

Posted on April 27, 2020 in Car Accidents

The aftermath of a California car accident can be overwhelming. Although you may wish to focus your attention on healing from your injuries, parties such as police officers, investigators and insurance companies may contact you for interviews. It is important to fulfill your responsibilities as a crash victim if you wish to recover compensation for your auto accident. This includes filing a claim to damages within California’s deadline.

Insurance Claim: 24 to 72 Hours

Most car insurance companies require you to call and report an auto accident and any related injuries as soon as possible – typically within one to three days after the crash. You will find the exact deadline to call and report a crash in your insurance contract. Call as soon as you can to report the collision. If you have not yet been to a doctor, refrain from answering questions about your injuries. Say you are unsure whether you have injuries and will report back after seeking medical care. Go to a hospital right away after a car accident. Waiting could give the insurance company a reason to deny benefits.

Personal Injury Suit: 2 Years

If the car accident did give you personal injuries and you wish to seek restitution through a civil claim, you have two years in which to do so. California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 sets a two-year statute of limitations on all personal injury and wrongful death claims. In general, you will have two years from the date your auto accident occurred to bring a lawsuit. If your injuries had delayed symptoms or delayed diagnosis, however, you may have two years from the date of discovery instead. In a wrongful death action, you will have two years from the date your loved one died to file.

Missing California’s statute of limitations will generally mean losing your right to obtain any financial compensation. The courts are strict with keeping to the deadline, with rare exceptions. Leave yourself ample time to fill out confusing legal paperwork and file your claim with the civil courts. Contact a car accident attorney in Los Angeles as soon as you can after a harmful accident to make sure you meet your deadline.

Claim Against the Government: 6 Months

You will not have as much time to file a civil injury claim after a California car accident if the defendant in your case is a government agency or employee. If a police officer rear-ended you, for example, your claim will involve unique rules. Other examples include accidents with firetrucks, city buses, state highway patrol officers, USPS mail trucks, utility vehicles, trash collectors and common carriers.

Lawsuits against government entities in California use the Tort Claims Act. If you need to bring an injury claim against a government agency or one of its employees, you must file your initial notice no later than six months from the date of your auto accident. The initial notice will go directly to the party you believe is responsible for your accident. The defendant will then have a chance to respond before you may proceed to trial with your injury claim.

Do Not Answer Injury Questions Until Going to a Doctor

It is possible to collect an insurance settlement or jury verdict for a car accident injury you do not discover until later. A herniated disk that does not rupture until two weeks after your car accident, for example, could still make you eligible for financial recovery for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, and more.

It is important not to tell insurance claims adjusters, police officers or the other driver that you are uninjured until you have verified this with a doctor. Even if you feel fine immediately after a crash, your adrenaline could be masking the symptoms of a serious injury. Wait to answer questions about a potential car accident injury until a doctor has confirmed your diagnosis or lack thereof. If you have a crash-related injury, contact a lawyer right away to make sure you do not miss an important filing deadline in California.