California Car Accident Statute of Limitations

California car accident statute of limitations

Understanding the legal intricacies surrounding car accidents in California can be overwhelming. The statute of limitations, or the time frame in which one is allowed to file a lawsuit after an accident, is a crucial aspect of car accident claims. At MLG Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers, we guide our clients through the California legal maze. We ensure you grasp the deadlines and requirements surrounding car accident claims. Our dedicated team works diligently to uphold your rights and provide the legal support you deserve.

Take advantage of your chance to file a legal claim! Our personal injury lawyer can review car accident lawsuits’ specifics with you. In addition to a car accident lawsuit, we can negotiate with the insurance company for you. If an accident occurs, seek medical care as soon as possible. Then, reach out to our office to discuss your car accident case.


The statute of limitations serves as a timer, dictating when a car accident claim can be filed. In California, the deadline depends on the type of claim you’re pursuing. Missing this deadline could prevent you from filing a valid claim. Therefore, it is essential to understand and act within these timeframes. Engaging with a knowledgeable attorney ensures you navigate these timelines efficiently.

We have experience with countless car accident cases and can review yours as well. Learn more about personal injury cases below.


Personal injury claims

Car accidents can lead to debilitating injuries, ranging from minor cuts and bruises to severe traumas. This includes traumatic brain injuries. Each injury, irrespective of its severity, can bring physical pain and emotional and financial strain. Medical bills can pile up, and if the injury leads to a prolonged absence from work, lost wages can further exacerbate the financial stress. It’s crucial to understand that the goal of a personal injury claim is to make victims whole again. This means seeking compensation for tangible and intangible damages.

In the aftermath of an accident, victims might feel overwhelmed by the various steps involved in filing a personal injury claim. First, seeking immediate medical attention is essential, even if injuries seem minor initially. A comprehensive medical evaluation ensures timely treatment and creates a record of injuries. This is invaluable when substantiating a claim. Notifying state law enforcement and obtaining an official accident is crucial. It provides an objective account of the incident, supporting your claim.

California’s legal system acknowledges the gravity of car accident injuries. A framework is in place for compensation. Yet, to ensure a successful claim, you must gather comprehensive evidence. This includes eyewitness accounts, photographs of the crash site, and other relevant documentation. Collaborating with legal professionals can streamline the process. We can put your case in a position to succeed. We have an in-depth understanding of personal injury claims in California. What do you need to know about the statute of limitations?

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in California

  • General Two-Year Time Limit: In California, victims have two years after the collision to pursue a lawsuit. Delaying past this timeframe can result in a loss of rights to claim compensation.
  • Discovery Rule and Tolling Exceptions: Sometimes, an injury may not be immediately noticeable. In such cases, California’s discovery rule permits filing from the date the injury was or should have been discovered. Additionally, the timeframe can be tolled under certain circumstances, like being legally incapacitated. This means the clock pauses for a short time.

Filing Procedures and Requirements

Embarking on a personal injury claim involves several critical steps. From gathering evidence to engaging with insurance entities, each phase is pivotal. Let’s explore these facets in more depth.

  • Gathering Evidence and Medical Records: Documentation forms the backbone of a personal injury claim. Ensure you have detailed medical records of your injuries. This paints a clear picture of how severe they are.
  • Contacting Insurance Companies: It’s vital to report the accident to the involved insurance companies. This step is crucial in initiating the claim process and negotiating potential settlements.
  • Consulting With Legal Representation: An attorney can offer invaluable insights into the nuances of your case. This ensures you are well-equipped to secure a favorable outcome.

Closing a personal injury claim requires thorough documentation and timely communication. It would help if you depended on the expertise of a seasoned lawyer. Prioritizing these aspects can bolster your chances of securing the compensation you deserve.


Property damage claims

Car accidents can cause significant harm to vehicles. This leads to considerable expenses for repairs or even total replacements. Repairs can be extensive and expensive, whether it’s a shattered windshield, dented door, or more severe damage to the engine or chassis. These repair bills can escalate quickly, especially if you’re dealing with luxury or imported vehicles. It’s crucial to navigate the claims process efficiently. That way, you recover the maximum compensation for damages incurred.

Accidents might also harm personal belongings inside the car. Examples include electronics, eyewear, or even items of sentimental value. You can pursue damages for lost belongings. But it does make the process more complicated. To simplify this process, maintain an inventory of damaged items. Please keep a record of their estimated value and repair or replacement costs.

If you have questions about this process, reach out to us. Having a detailed paper trail can streamline the process. That way, you recover all compensation to which you are entitled.

Property Damage Claims in Car Accidents

When your vehicle or other personal property is damaged in a car accident, assessing the extent of the damage is paramount. Accurate evaluations can help determine the compensation needed for repairs or replacements. In many cases, property claims for repairs are handled via insurance settlements. However, legal intervention might be necessary to secure rightful compensation when negotiations falter.

Statute of Limitations for Property Damage Claims in California

Initiating a property damage claim necessitates understanding the associated deadlines and processes. Here’s what California’s laws dictate:

  • Three-Year Time Limit for Damage to Property Claims: Claimants have three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit for property damage.
  • Filing Claims With Insurance Companies: Reporting the damage to insurance companies is a preliminary step. This enables negotiations for repairs or replacements.

Settling a property damage claim depends on accurate damage assessments. Working with a lawyer can ensure efficient insurance interactions. Stay informed and proactive about your journey. Partner with our team to ensure comprehensive compensation for your damaged assets.

Documenting Property Damage

  • Taking Photographs and Videos: Visual evidence can clearly portray the extent of damage, aiding in validating your claims.
  • Getting Repair Estimates: Seeking estimates from reliable repair shops provides a benchmark for compensation negotiations, ensuring you’re adequately reimbursed.


Losing a loved one in a car accident is heart-wrenching. The emotional side of this is heartbreaking. But, there are major financial expenses that could arise as well. Wrongful death claims aim to provide financial relief to families grappling with such losses. These claims, however, have specific requirements and deadlines in California. What are a few rules surrounding a person’s death in a California car accident?

Overview of Wrongful Death Claims Resulting From Car Accidents

Wrongful death claims are pursued when an individual dies due to another’s negligence. Families can seek compensation for funeral expenses, lost wages, and emotional anguish. In California, these claims adhere to strict timelines. Ensuring timely filings can be pivotal in securing compensation to mitigate financial strains.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in California

  • Two-Year Time Limit From the Date of Death: Families have a two-year window from the date of their loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
  • Special Considerations for Filing on Behalf of a Deceased Individual: When representing a deceased individual, understanding who has the legal right to file is crucial. Typically, immediate family members or designated representatives can initiate these claims.


Exceptions and factors affecting the statute of limitations

California’s statute of limitations isn’t rigid. Specific situations and conditions can modify these timeframes. Recognizing these exceptions can be pivotal, especially in unique circumstances.

Minors and Incapacitated Individuals

Claims against a government employee follow a distinct protocol. California has a shorter six-month window to file a claim against a governmental agency. Navigating these unique timelines and requirements can be challenging. That is why you need an attorney with a comprehensive understanding of the law.

Government Entities and Sovereign Immunity

Claims against a government employee follow a distinct protocol. In California, there’s a shorter six-month window to file a claim against a governmental agency. Navigating these unique timelines and requirements can be challenging. That is why you need an attorney with a comprehensive understanding of the law.

Hit-And-Run Accidents and Unidentified Drivers

Hit-and-run cases can be particularly distressing. Victims may wonder about their compensation avenues when the at-fault driver remains unidentified. In California, victims can potentially turn to their insurance policies. Make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage.

Extensions Based on Fraud, Concealment, or Misrepresentation

There are instances where the at-fault party might attempt to conceal evidence or misrepresent facts. California laws may allow for an extension of the statute of limitations in such situations. This provision ensures that victims aren’t denied justice due to deceitful tactics.


Neglecting the statute of limitations can drastically alter your recovery. If you do not file your claim in time, you could miss your chance to pursue compensation. This means you need to cover the expenses on your own. This might be a burden that you cannot afford. Moreover, gathering crucial evidence to support a claim becomes increasingly challenging as time passes. This could make it harder to put together a strong case. This lapse can also affect one’s negotiating power with insurance companies, who are well aware of these deadlines and might exploit such oversights.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that the legal system is stringent when it comes to these deadlines. There are very few exceptions that courts consider to extend the filing period. Being proactive and initiating the claims process promptly safeguards your rights. It also maximizes the potential for a comprehensive settlement. You must be aware of the timelines that apply to your case. That is why you should consult with legal professionals as soon as possible.


Contact our California car accident lawyer

At MLG Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers, we understand the complexities of California’s car accident laws. Don’t navigate the legal terrain alone if you or your loved one has been involved in a car accident. Trust our expertise and dedication to champion your cause.

Understanding and acting within the statute of limitations puts your claim in a position to be heard. See a doctor for your serious injuries first. Seek the counsel of our seasoned lawyers today, ensuring that your quest for justice and compensation is well-guided.

Contact MLG Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers for a consultation today!

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