If you are the victim of a negligent driver or other negligent parties, it is important to know how long you have to file a lawsuit after a motorcycle accident, as waiting too long could potentially prohibit you from filing suit. Each state has a different time limit.
A statute of limitations generally determines the amount of time that accident victims have to file a personal injury claim. In California, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1, two years is generally how long you have to file a lawsuit after a motorcycle accident.
Normally, the timeline begins on the day your accident and injuries occurred, although there can be some rare exceptions that could allow victims to file after two years.
Acting as Soon as Possible Can Be Advantageous for Your Claim
While you could, theoretically, file your claim one day before the statute of limitations runs out, waiting until the last minute can be detrimental for your claim. At the very least, you should seek professional legal advice to protect your rights as soon as you can after an accident. Quick action can also help to preserve evidence and witness statements.
As a general rule, the more complex your claim, the sooner you should think about legal action as an attorney could spend quite some time researching the facts of your case and identifying all potentially liable parties for your suit.
Do Not File Too Soon After the Accident
On the other hand, filing a claim too soon, especially if a victim suffered significant injuries, can be a mistake. If a patient is still going through the initial stages of recovery, they should make sure the doctor estimates any future medical care they might need and offer an opinion on whether and when the victim could return to employment.
A motorcycle accident lawyer from our firm can help you estimate what fair compensation would look like for both your current and future losses. This is important because you do not want to suffer any further losses due to your accident.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Victims who suffered catastrophic injuries may have needed some time before resuming some sort of normal life and might have missed the two-year deadline. If this happened to you, you should consult with your motorcycle accident lawyer imminently, as you could potentially still have a chance to recover compensation from the at-fault party.
Delayed Discovery Rule
In some circumstances, the delayed discovery rule can give victims the right to sue even after the normal statute of limitations has run out. This can occur when the cause of an individual’s injury was not discovered until a considerable amount of time after the accident. However, the plaintiff (the accident victim bringing the claim) will have to offer evidence as to why their injury was not discovered earlier.
The Victim Was a Minor or Otherwise Mentally Incapable
CCP §352 allows an exception when the plaintiff was a minor under the age of 18 or did not have the mental capacity to make decisions around the time when the motorcycle accident occurred.
For example, if you suffered from a debilitating brain injury after an accident and it took you years to recover to the extent that you could file a lawsuit, you may have a case for an extension of the statute.
The Defendant Left the State After the Accident
You could also have a case for an extension if the defendant in your motorcycle accident left California and did not return for some years, leaving you unable to file a lawsuit against them. This could potentially happen if you got injured in a hit-and-run accident by someone who was eventually identified but had left the state.
While there can be exceptions to the two-year time limit, do not bank on being one of the rare exceptions. However, if you missed the deadline for filing suit for a genuine reason, your motorcycle accident lawyer could help argue your case for an extension and assist you with filing your claim.
The Attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices Can Help
If you would like to find out about the best possible timing of your lawsuit, contact us for help. We can also potentially help you if the statute of limitations has run out for your claim. Call Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices for a free case evaluation now by dialing (888) 522-6291.