Can I still make personal injury claims after more than three months?
In all cases, a claim for personal injuries can be made more than three months after you have suffered an accident. The question is better asked, how long after you have suffered an accident do you have to file a claim? There are laws in the state of California that set forth specific time limitations for filing claims and lawsuits after an accident. The failure to comply with these laws will result in the complete loss of your rights, even though the other party is at fault.
First, you should understand that there is a difference between filing a claim and filing a lawsuit. To file a claim simply means that you are putting the responsible party or their insurance company on notice that you are asserting your rights by seeking compensation for personal injuries and other related damages. During the claim phase, an effort is made to settle the matter without going to court by communicating directly with the responsible party or their insurance company.
Filing a lawsuit means that you have lodged a written complaint with the California Superior Court seeking compensation for personal injuries and other related damages. A complaint is filed when a settlement could not be reached during the claim phase of the process. Once a lawsuit is filed, the litigation process begins and all of the interaction from that point forward is between your lawyer and the attorneys for the responsible party. If a settlement during the litigation is not reached, the matter proceeds to trial.
The laws and case authority that set forth and interpret the statutes of limitations, which govern the deadlines for filing claims and lawsuits in the state of California are very complicated. These statutes differ based upon the type of injury claim one is asserting, and whether the responsible party is a private party, a public entity, or the United States of America. These laws are complicated, and you should always consult with an experienced attorney to be sure you are properly understanding and applying them.
There are no laws in the state of California that impose time limitations for filing a claim against a private party for personal injuries or wrongful death. However, the statutes of limitations in California require adults to file a lawsuit for personal injuries or wrongful death, which arise from ordinary negligence by no later than two (2) years after the occurrence of the accident. The time frame for filing a lawsuit on behalf of a minor is tolled or delayed until two years after the minor has turned age 18.
A claim for personal injuries, wrongful death, and property damage against a public entity must comply with the Government Tort Claims Act, which requires that an administrative claim be filed by no later than (6) six months after you have suffered an accident. After filing a claim, a lawsuit must then be filed and the time limitations for filing the lawsuit depend upon whether the public entity rejects, accepts, or does not respond to the claim.
Even though you can file a claim for injuries more than three months after an accident, it is not advisable to wait. Delays in retaining an attorney may result in lost opportunities to photograph accident scenes, locate and speak with witnesses, and have vehicles inspected by accident reconstruction and biomechanics experts, all of which can complicate if not devastate the ability to win your case. In addition, delays in seeking appropriate medical treatment can dramatically affect the ability to establish that certain injuries were caused by the accident, which can then negatively affect the settlement value of your case.
The guidance of an experienced attorney immediately after suffering an accident is critically
important in helping you get you the greatest compensation possible for your case.