When to File Your Personal Injury Claim
Learn about statutes of limitations on personal injury claims in California.
If you have been injured in any type of accident that was not entirely your fault, you may have the potential to seek compensation for your injuries via a personal injury claim. However, it can be a bit tricky to figure out the right timing for filing your claim. Your best bet is to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer like Fernando D. Vargas who can help you avoid filing before you are really ready or waiting so long you miss your opportunity.
Risks of Filing Too Soon
You might assume that you should file your personal injury claim immediately after the accident. However, this ignores the fact that some injuries and consequences may not be immediately apparent. For example, “late appearing” car accident injuries like whiplash, back injuries, and concussion may not be diagnosed immediately after the accident. In the case of a serious head injury, it may take a while to fully understand the impact of any resulting personality changes, cognitive ability changes, emotional changes, etc. on your personal and professional life. You do not want to risk filing a claim—or accepting a settlement offer—before you, your doctors, and your attorney have had a chance to fully analyze your injuries and quantify their impact on your future.
Risks of Filing Too Late
Of course, if you wait too long to file your personal injury claim, you may not be able to recover any compensation at all. California’s statute of limitations on personal injury claims requires you to take action within two years. Two years from when, you might wonder. Actually, there are three possible start dates for the statute of limitations:
- The date of your accident
- The date when your injuries were discovered
- The date when you should reasonably have known about your injuries and losses (determined by a judge)
One important exception is if you are planning to file a premises accident claim against a government entity. In this case your statute of limitations for presenting a claim to that entity will run out after just 6 months.
Call Your Attorney Fast
The fact that you may have years to file your claim does not mean you should wait to hire an attorney. On the contrary, you should call an attorney immediately following your accident. This will ensure that your attorney can secure vital evidence quickly after the accident and start building a strong case for compensation. Your attorney will then make sure you are prepared to meet all the important deadlines for your case.