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Silverthorne Attorneys is a personal injury law firm in Orange County whose top priority and singular focus is the people we represent. We work diligently to make sure that our clients are well taken care of and that their needs are not only met, but come first. Injured now? Do not hesitate to reach out to Silverthorne Attorneys for a free consultation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Accident Claim in California?
Vehicular accidents and other incidents stemming from negligence can be life altering. When an accident happens, you deserve to be represented by a trusted, skillful attorney who will aggressively pursue your best interests and work to recover the most compensation for your claim. If you have suffered from an injury or need information on how to navigate the law, you will need some basic information and strong legal representation. While the law is clear, it is not always easy to know what decisions to make or how to move forward. Knowing your legal rights, as well as limitations, and having the legal support you deserve are crucial following an accident.
Timeline: First, it is important to know the timeline available in filing a claim. The amount of time you have to file a personal injury claim in the State of California is dictated by the statute of limitations. These limitations vary depending on the nature of the claim and sometimes who is involved in the incident. For personal injury claims in California, generally you have a two year window of opportunity for claims of personal injury or bodily harm damage from the date of the accident, three years for property damage and just six months for claims involving government entities.
What qualifies as personal injury?
Your lawyer will work with you to determine exactly how each injury you have suffered, physical or property, will be covered, but there are some expenses and classifications that are not always obvious up front. Broadly, personal injury encompasses all injury and expenses related to your physical self that are caused by the accident. It is important to spend some time identifying all the ways in which your life is inconvenienced or changed because of an accident to understand exactly what you deserve compensation for. Because our lives are complex, accidents may affect us in unexpected ways that can be costly. Commonly, if you are injured in a car accident, you can expect to seek compensation for all medical expenses, including future expenses, lost wages from having to miss work or find different work due to bodily limitations, pain and suffering, and permanent disability or scarring related to these injuries.
Recovering from Property Damage
As a result of your accident, you may have also suffered property damage to your vehicle, bicycle, real estate, or other property. For these types of claims, you have a little bit more time to file a claim: 3 years from the date of accident. However, practically speaking, you will want to include any claim for property damage in your initial settlement demand or lawsuit.
Tighter Deadlines for Government Entities
The shortest statute of limitations related to injury cases are for those involving government entities. Basically, if the defendant in your case is a government entity, like a government worker acting in their official capacity or a government agency or department, you will need to hurry up and file your claim within 6 months of the date of the accident.
Process and timing for filing a claim
If you have been injured in an accident, it is best to seek medical attention immediately and legal counsel very soon thereafter. A lawyer will spend time with you discussing the accident and your medical past and review all of your current medical bills and records. Your lawyer will then work with you to determine what the best options are for you and how to proceed. Often, claims can be filed and settled without the need for a full trial, but the circumstances of the case, as well as your desires, will dictate the best course of action.
One of the best ways a lawyer can support you during this process is by determining when it is best to file a claim. It may seem like it is best to file a claim immediately after an accident, but this is not always the case. Often, injuries caused by accidents can require multiple stages of care, particularly if the injuries are severe. As a result, you will need to reasonably ascertain your future care needs before sending a settlement demand to the negligent party. Determining these future needs will likely require the opinion of a medical expert. Furthermore, it is common to experience some noticeable trauma directly after the occurrence of a vehicular accident, and then several days or weeks later feel the effects of some accident trauma that was not immediately obvious.
However, the decision to wait to file a claim also needs to be balanced with the statute of limitations. If you wait too long to file, your claim will be barred by the statute of limitations and you will not be entitled to recover compensation from the party responsible for causing your injuries. In some cases, knowing when to file is tricky and it is best to work with a skilled lawyer on these details who can help navigate the nuances of the law to ensure you do not end up paying out of pocket.
We are here to help
Accidents can be scary, confusing, and stressful. You deserve help when filing a personal injury claim to make sure you do not miss the deadline for filing and that you do so at the most advantageous time. Without representation, you will be left to navigate the California legal system on your own and you may not be fully compensated for your injuries and damages.
The experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Silverthorne Attorneys have helped countless personal injury victims recover the compensation they are entitled to. Our team will handle the legal complexities of your case, so you can focus on moving on with your life and being made whole again. For a complimentary consultation of your claim, contact us today at (949) 234-6034. We will assess your case and help to strategize the best way to move forward.