How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

A man holding his head in pain after being in a car accident in Sacramento.

Every type of lawsuit is subject to the statute of limitations set forth by the jurisdiction in which the claim arises. The statute of limitations is the time frame in which a claim may be filed with the court. Failing to file your lawsuit within the specified statute of limitations will subsequently bar you from filing the claim altogether, thus losing the opportunity to be awarded damages or to seek justice. 


If you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident, it’s important to understand the statute of limitations within your jurisdiction to guarantee that you file your claims in a timely manner. The experienced car accident attorneys at Sette Law are eager to help you understand the statute of limitations and assess whether your claim can be filed within California.


Get the settlement you need. Call Sette Law today


California’s Statute Of Limitations

In California, victims of a car accident have a two-year statute of limitations in which they may file their claim. 


When Does The Statute Of Limitations Start?

The two-year time period begins to run on the date of the accident. As such, you must file your California car accident lawsuit within two years of the accident’s date. Trying to file any later than that may, unfortunately, bar you from recovering any damages you may otherwise have been owed. 


Exceptions To The Statute Of Limitations

In certain situations, an exception to the statute of limitations may apply, thus permitting you to file your claim after the specified time frame. Certain exceptions may permit the statute of limitations related to your case to be paused or extended based on the particular circumstances. Our experienced California personal injury attorneys can help you determine whether your claims may fall within any of these California statute of limitations exceptions


A Government Agency Is Involved

When a government agency is involved, the statute of limitations may vary depending on the type of claims being brought. For personal injury or personal property damages lawsuits, the claims must be filed within six months of the date of the incident. Meanwhile, property damage under contract breach claims must be filed within one year of the date of the incident.


Discovery Rule

Sometimes, the victim may be unaware of any injuries at the time of the accident, thus preventing them from filing a claim within the specified statute of limitations period. As such, in certain circumstances, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the date that the injury or loss has been discovered.



Tolling arises in situations where the statute of limitations is temporarily suspended before beginning to run again. Given the complexities of tolling, our experienced legal team is here to guide you through identifying tolling and whether it is relevant to your claims.


The Victim Is A Child

In situations where the victim is a child, the statute of limitations may not run until the victim turns 18. In cases of childhood sexual assault, for example, the statute of limitations runs for 22 years, beginning on the victim’s 18th birthday or five years after the victim discovers the injury after turning 18 years old. 


Plaintiff Is Declared Mentally Incompetent

In situations where the plaintiff has been deemed mentally incompetent for whatever reason, the statute of limitations does not begin until the plaintiff is subsequently declared competent. 


Plaintiff Dies Within Six Months Of The End Of The Statute Of Limitations

Unfortunately, there are circumstances in which the plaintiff dies within six months of the end of the statute of limitations. When this happens, the lawsuit can be subsequently filed by the plaintiff’s representatives within six months following the plaintiff’s death. 


Plaintiff Is Performing Military Services

If a plaintiff is performing military services, it is unsurprising that they may be incapable of adequately abiding by any relevant statutes of limitations. As such, the statute of limitations tolls so long as the plaintiff is actively in the military to prevent them from being unjustly barred from filing any claims to which they may be entitled to damages. 


Plaintiff Is Released From Prison

When the plaintiff is in prison, the statute of limitations tolls until the plaintiff’s release or for two years, whichever one occurs first. 


Why Waiting To Claim Injury May Hurt Your Case

Waiting to file an injury claim can be detrimental to your personal injury case in a variety of ways. Not only are you losing the opportunity to collect the necessary evidence, but you may also be subject to the statute of limitations within your jurisdiction. When you find yourself the victim of a personal injury claim, it’s necessary to speak with a legal professional right away to assess your damages and build your case. 


You Need To Preserve Evidence

Having a substantial amount of evidence in support of your claims is essential to help your legal representative build the strongest case possible for you. The more documents and evidence you preserve, such as photographs, medical records, medical bills, lost wages, and so forth, the more likely you are to have a successful claim against the defendant and be awarded proper damages. 


Insurance Companies Are Not On Your Side

If you find yourself involved in a car accident case, it’s important to remember that insurance companies are not on your side. Often, insurance companies make fast offers to pay less on their end. It is also common for insurance companies to try to use your own words against you to relieve themselves from any compensation you may be entitled to.


This is why it’s essential to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before any dealings or correspondence you may have with your insurance company.


If You Have Been Injured In A Car Accident, Call Sette Law Today

A gavel next to the scales of justice in front of a row of books.

Regardless of the extent of your injuries, our Sacramento personal injury attorneys are eager to assist you in your car accident claims. Not only will we ensure that your case is filed within the proper statute of limitations, but we will fight to ensure you receive the maximum compensation and damages you deserve.


If you have been injured in a car accident, don’t delay. Call Sette Law now



Barrett, S. Statute of Limitations: Is It Too Late to Sue? 

Goguen, D. What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in California? 

Statute of Limitations

Statute of Limitations Definition



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