How long you have to file a lawsuit after a car accident depends on the state where the accident took place. In Los Angeles, your case is governed by Californian law, which means you generally have up to two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit after a car accident, as stated in the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1.
According to the Judicial Council of California, some factors might toll, or temporarily pause, the statute of limitations. Some factors that might toll the statutory deadline for your car accident case include:
- Whether a minor was injured in the accident
- Whether the at-fault driver is out of state
- The mental health of the at-fault party
Tolling the statute of limitations is complex. Your lawyer may explain whether your case might benefit from tolling. Your legal team may also review the details of the collision and the age of all injured parties in your vehicle to determine if tolling the statutory deadline is possible.
With sufficient notice and early intervention, your lawyer might be able to file your lawsuit on time and pursue compensation on your behalf.
How a Personal Injury Lawsuit Works
If your personal injury case goes to court, your lawyer and the at-fault party’s lawyer may gather as much evidence as possible about the accident. Because neither representative was present when the accident occurred, they might rely on the post-accident paper trail to tell the story of the collision. You and the at-fault party might be asked to:
- Participate in interrogatories or written questionnaires
- Submit to depositions or questioning under oath
These evidence-gathering sessions allow each side to tell the story of the accident from their point of view. It also allows each side to objectively review the facts of the accident, reach a conclusion about its cause, and determine its financial impact.
Many personal injury lawsuits result in settlement negotiations once the facts and details of the accident become known. Your lawyer may advise you on what course of action you should take to resolve your personal injury case.
Your Lawyer May Help You Reach an Out-of-Court Settlement
Instead of going to trial, many car accident claims are settled out of court. If you agree to a monetary settlement, you may be asked to sign a form releasing the at-fault party from any additional financial responsibility for the accident. This makes calculating your damages as accurately as possible critical because if you accept a low settlement offer and find out you have additional financial losses, you will have to pay for those damages out of pocket.
You cannot request additional compensation, even for legitimate expenses, after you agree to a settlement and sign a waiver. Your lawyer can explain the importance of establishing the value of your claim in advance of any settlement negotiations.
Establishing the Financial Impact of a Car Accident
It can take time for the financial impact of a car accident to become clear. If your injuries require treatment from more than one doctor, specialist, or surgeon, each of these health care professionals will send different bills. You might also have expenses that include ambulance and emergency room fees, testing and exams, and hospital admissions.
The California Civil Code (CIV) §1431.2 defines which economic and noneconomic damages you might be able to recover, such as:
- Medical care costs
- Income loss related to your injuries and treatments
- Costs for in-home medical or domestic services
- Pain and suffering and inconvenience
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Property repair or replacement costs
You might also be entitled to funeral and burial expenses if a loved one was fatally injured in the crash. Your lawyer may go over the costs you incurred in the accident and your potential right to monetary recovery.
Do Not Run Out of Time to File Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Every potential car accident lawsuit has a deadline. Speak to a member of our legal team to learn more about how long you have to file a lawsuit after a car accident. Your lawyer may be able to help you comply with the statute of limitations in California to make sure your right to compensation does not expire.
If you are interested in seeking compensation from a negligent driver, contact the personal injury team at Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices by calling (888) 522-6291 today.