What Is the Statute of Limitations in a Car Accident Claim?

What Is the Statute of Limitations in a Car Accident Claim?

Victims of car accidents have a minimal amount of time to file a lawsuit seeking monetary compensation. Specifically, car accident victims must file their lawsuits within the statute of limitations, which in California gives you only two years after their accident.

Absent exceptional circumstances, an accident victim who fails to file a timely car accident lawsuit cannot recover monetary damages for their injuries and other accident-related losses.

Given the concise window of time that applies, car accident victims must contact experienced legal counsel as quickly as possible for representation in their case.

A knowledgeable San Mateo car accident attorney in your area can determine the statute of limitations deadline that applies to your case and, if necessary, can file a lawsuit on your behalf. Your lawyer can also assist you with negotiating fair settlement compensation with insurance companies and litigate your case through the state court system if necessary.

Also, at every stage of the proceedings, your attorney can answer all of your legal questions and help you make intelligent decisions about how best to move your case forward to a favorable resolution.

Types of Car Accidents and Their Causes

What Is the Statute of Limitations in a Car Accident Claim

When people drive in a careless or distracted manner, they may cause several different types of car accidents.

One common type of car accident is a broadside collision or T-bone accident. In this scenario, the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another car traveling on an intersecting road. These accidents usually occur when negligent drivers fail to yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the intersecting road at the appropriate time.

Another common type of car accident is a tailgate accident – or rear-end crash. In this type of accident, the front of one vehicle hits the back of another car, usually because the negligent driver is tailgating or following the front vehicle too closely.

On the other hand, a sideswipe accident happens when the side of one vehicle brushes against the side of another. In a forceful sideswipe accident, the vehicle on the receiving end may shift into an adjacent travel lane – or entirely off the road – leading to severe injuries for the occupants.

Finally, a head-on crash happens when the fronts of two vehicles collide while traveling in opposite directions. When these accidents involve cars traveling at high speeds, drivers and their passengers may suffer fatal injuries. Fatalities are prevalent if the force of a head-on crash causes the involved vehicles to fold in on themselves.

These various types of accidents usually happen when other drivers behave negligently or recklessly. In many situations, drivers cause car accidents when they violate one or more traffic laws, such as speed limit laws, right-of-way laws, and turn signal laws. A driver may also cause an accident if they fail to use their mirrors, cameras, and other vehicle technology – especially when backing out of parking spaces or changing lanes in busy highway traffic.

Car accidents may also occur when people drive while intoxicated. Both drugs and alcohol may prevent someone from driving safely and carefully. In particular, alcohol is a depressant, significantly slowing down the central nervous system's ability to function.

When a driver is per se intoxicated, they may experience delayed concentration, blurred vision, and impaired reaction time, preventing them from stopping their vehicle before causing an accident.

Although commercial drivers (such as tractor-trailer or bus drivers) and drivers under 21 must follow stricter standards, most drivers are legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 percent.

If a police officer arrests a driver for DUI or driving under the influence, and the driver sustains a conviction on that criminal charge, they may have to pay monetary fines or even serve jail time.

In addition, if they cause an accident resulting in physical injuries, their insurance company may have to pay the accident victim various damages, depending upon the extent of the accident victim's injuries.

In addition to intoxicated driving, distracted driving is another common cause of local car accidents. People drive distractedly when they do not pay sufficient attention to the road.

Instead of watching the road and looking into their mirrors regularly, distracted drivers: 

  • Make phone calls (even using a hands-free Bluetooth device can be distracting)
  • Send or read a text messages or emails
  • Program their GPS
  • Listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or loud music
  • Apply makeup
  • Comb their hair
  • Roughhouse with passengers
  • Pay attention to children in the back seat
  • Eat or drink

Whenever drivers focus their attention on something besides driving, their chances of causing an accident increase significantly. The same is true if they turn their eyes away from the road – even for a second or two. This is long enough for a serious accident and injuries to result.

Finally, many traffic accidents happen when drivers engage in road rage. Some drivers become angry when other vehicle traffic moves too slowly for their liking. To get ahead, a driver might angrily honk their horn, cut other vehicles off in traffic, weave around slower-moving cars and trucks, speed, or tailgate other vehicles. However, as a result, the enraged driver may negligently cause an accident or series of collisions that involve multiple vehicles, accident victims, and injuries.

If you recently suffered injuries in one of these accidents that resulted from another driver's reckless or careless behavior, you are not alone. However, you should reach out to skilled legal counsel in your area as quickly as possible to discover your legal options and pursue the monetary recovery you deserve.

Your lawyer can file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company and negotiate with insurance company adjusters. If the insurance company does not offer you favorable monetary compensation via settlement, your lawyer can litigate your case in court and, if necessary, take your case to a binding arbitration hearing or civil jury trial.

Common Injuries that Result from a Car Accident 

Victims of car accidents may suffer severe injuries that leave them incapacitated for a long time. In addition, accident victims may require extensive medical treatment, often at a significant monetary cost.

The injuries that a car crash victim suffers will depend on the specific accident circumstances, the type of car crash that occurs, the number of vehicles involved, the number of separate collisions, and the force of those collisions. Moreover, if a part of the accident victim's body makes contact with the steering wheel, headrest, window, or door, the accident victim may suffer even more severe injuries.

Some of the most common injuries that car crash victims may suffer in a severe accident include rib fractures, broken bones, soft tissue neck and back injuries, open lacerations, bruises from airbag deployment, spinal cord injuries, full or partial paralysis injuries, internal organ damage, internal bleeding, eye injuries, and mouth or teeth injuries.

If you or a person you love suffered one or more of these injuries in a car crash that someone else caused, you should get the medical help and treatment that you need right away. You should also follow through with all of your medical provider's treatment recommendations.

These recommendations may include:

  • Consulting a primary care doctor
  • Undergoing treatment from a medical specialist
  • Undergoing one or more medical procedures, such as surgeries
  • Attending ongoing physical therapy sessions to recover after surgery or other significant medical procedure

During this time, your car accident attorney can begin gathering the necessary documents to prove your case. Then, after your medical treatment concludes, your lawyer can submit a settlement demand package to the insurance company adjuster and begin negotiating aggressively for the total settlement compensation you deserve in your case.

Filing a Timely Car Accident Claim

If you suffered injuries in a car crash that resulted from another driver's negligent behavior, your lawyer can file a personal injury claim with that negligent driver's insurance company.

For the insurance company to make a decision in your case, they will typically need to see certain types of accident-related documents. Those documents may include police reports, medical records, medical bills, lost income documentation (if you are making a lost income claim), photographs of your visible injuries, and property damage photographs of your vehicle.

If the insurance company agrees to accept fault for your accident, the settlement negotiation process between your attorney and the insurance company can begin. During this process, your lawyer typically makes an opening settlement demand, and the insurance company adjuster will respond with an offer.

However, in most situations, these initial offers are not worth accepting, as they are far below the actual value of the pending car accident case. Your attorney can then negotiate with the insurance company and point out the strengths of your case, including the severity of your injuries and the extent of your property damage.

If the insurance company decides not to increase its settlement offer significantly, your lawyer can pursue litigation by filing a lawsuit in the court system. Your attorney can then continue their settlement discussions with the insurance company or continue the litigation process in your case.

In some situations, your attorney can take your case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing, although most car accident cases settle at some point along the way.

While your car accident case is pending, your attorney can help you make intelligent and informed decisions to maximize the monetary recovery you ultimately receive for your injuries.

Recovering the Money Damages You Need in Your Car Accident Claim or Lawsuit 

Victims of car accidents can recover various types of monetary damages in their case, depending on the nature and extent of their injuries and the total cost of their medical treatment.

In general, when an accident victim suffers a permanent injury, they are more likely to recover more significant monetary damages than if they sustained a less-serious injury.

Finally, insurance companies will consider property damage photos when deciding on the amount of financial compensation to award you. Generally, the more severe an accident victim's property damage, the higher their chances of receiving a favorable monetary award in their bodily injury case.

First, victims of car accidents can recover monetary damages for their related medical bills and expenses. Also, if they had to miss time from work after their accident, they can recover monetary damages for their lost earnings – or for their loss of earning capacity if they had to switch jobs and accept a lower-paying position.

Car crash victims may also receive monetary damages for their intangible losses, such as compensation for pain and suffering, mental distress, inconvenience, loss of the ability to use a body part, loss of spousal companionship, and loss of life enjoyment.

Your car accident attorney can determine your eligibility for recovering these various damages and help you pursue the maximum amount of compensation you deserve for your accident-related losses.

Call an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today

Filing a timely car accident claim or lawsuit is vitally essential in a personal injury case. In fact, if an accident victim misses the statutory deadline – even inadvertently – they can no longer recover monetary damages for their injuries.

Ilya D. Frangos - Car Accident Attorney near Santa Barbara CA area
Ilya D. Frangos, Santa Barbara Car Accident Attorney

An experienced car accident attorney can help you file your claim or lawsuit in a timely manner and work to recover the monetary damages you deserve. Most importantly, your lawyer can do this for you while you focus on recovering from your injuries.

If the insurance company does not offer you fair compensation through settlement, your lawyer can litigate your case in the court system and aggressively represent you at all legal proceedings – including your civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.

Each car accident case is unique, but all victims must comply with the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit. Always discuss your options with an attorney as soon as possible to give them enough time to pursue your claim.


Address:1020 State Street #107, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone:(650) 419-0473


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