The state of California is a fault state, which means that you are allowed to file a personal injury claim after a car accident. If the other person is deemed to be liable for your injuries, he or she may pay for your medical bills and other costs related to the accident. How long do you have after a car crash to file a lawsuit?
California Law Gives You Two Years After the Crash Date to File
Under state law, you have two years after an auto accident to file a lawsuit. It is important to note that this doesn’t mean that the case has to be resolved in two years. It simply means that you have to file the lawsuit with the appropriate court by then. In many cases, a personal injury lawsuit can be settled without going to court.
What Happens After I File My Case?
Assuming that you file the case within the two-year window, it will be assigned to a judge who will hold an initial hearing. At that time, he or she will usually order the two sides to continue negotiating a settlement. If the two sides are having trouble settling on their own, a trial date will be set. However, it is still possible that the case could be settled without the need for a trial to take place.
What If It Has Been More Than Two Years Since the Accident?
Typically, you are not allowed to file a personal injury suit if your accident took place more than two years prior to filing. This is why it may be in your best interest to talk with a lawyer as soon as possible to increase the odds of a timely filing. If your case is allowed to proceed, you may be limited in the types of damages that you can collect.
Do I Have to Follow Through With a Threat to Sue?
After an accident, you may wish to notify all other parties of your intent to file a lawsuit. However, you are under no obligation to file a lawsuit or take any action other than attempting to settle the case outside of court. By letting others know of your intent to sue, it preserves your legal rights while also providing the other parties with motivation to negotiate in good faith.
What If My Case Is Dismissed?
It is possible that your case could be thrown out or dismissed based on a technicality. This happens frequently when injured victims attempt to navigate the legal system on their own. Typically, an injured victim may attempt to refile the case once the issue that caused it to be dismissed is resolved. While it may not impact the ability of an individual to eventually collect compensation, it could delay the process. This may be another reason why an individual may wish to talk with an attorney.
What If I’m Attempting to Sue Multiple Parties?
It is possible to name multiple defendants in a single case. However, it is possible that a judge will order that defendants stand trial separately or that only certain aspects of a case will be decided in a particular trial. In some cases, this may be done in an effort to get both sides to settle as it may be preferable to spending years in court.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you should file a lawsuit as quickly as possible. Doing so preserves your rights and increases the odds that you will get all of the compensation that you deserve. Your attorney can tell you more about the filing process and how statutes of limitations may impact your case.