How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim for an Injury?
The moments, hours, and days after you suffer an injury in an accident can be extremely stressful, to say the least. Between the shock of the accident, the pain of the injury, the disruption to your daily schedule, and the need to focus on getting the medical attention you need, knowing what actions to protect yourself legally and financially by working towards the recovery you deserve can feel like an unwanted burden. You may feel skeptical of your ability to win recovery and timid about taking action that could be perceived as antagonistic even when it’s the right and just thing to do. Thus, it can be tempting to delay taking action in pursuing a claim for a personal injury. But is delaying action on a pursuing a personal injury claim the right thing to do? And just how long after an accident do you have to make a claim for an injury?
Statutes of Limitations Are a Concern…
Generally, personal injury claims following an accident are governed by state law, and your state’s laws will include a statute of limitations for when a claim must be filed before it can no longer go forward. In California, the general statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the date of the injury. But that time period can be much shorter if you are filing a claim against a city, county, or state entity, with the applicable period being as little as six months.
In some cases, an injured victim may not “discover” the injury until a much later date than when the actual injury occurred. This is often the case with medical malpractice or defective drugs or medical devices that cause injury. California law allows a plaintiff to file a claim two years from the date of discovery of the injury, although defendants may push back to argue the plaintiff should have discovered it earlier. In all cases, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to determine whether you can still in fact bring a claim.
…but Collecting Evidence Should Be an Even Bigger Concern
While meeting the statute of limitations deadline is critical, a plaintiff should not sit around for months after an accident under the impression that there is plenty of time to file a claim. Although you may still be able to bring a claim, your ability to win maximum compensation for that claim may be greatly diminished when you wait to contact an attorney.
Winning a personal injury settlement or judgment is not simply a matter of submitting a list of your costs, but rather your attorney will need to present a compelling case for why it can be proven that the defendants foreseeably caused the full range of injuries you have suffered. Doing so often requires your attorney to collect physical evidence from the scene of the accident, talk to eyewitnesses, and work with your medical providers to collect medical evidence proving your claim. The longer you wait, the more difficult that can become, which can reduce your ability to prove your claim and to leverage your claim into a suitable out-of-court settlement. Furthermore, a defendant may argue that waiting to pursue your claim suggests there are problems with your version of the events.
Thus, you should always contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident to begin the process of winning the recovery you deserve.
Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys in the Inland Empire
At McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, our personal injury team – led by by partner Cory Weck, a Marine Corps officer with over 20 years of service to his country and 15 years of experience litigating personal injury cases – has repeatedly won verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients across the Inland Empire in the millions of dollars. Our attorneys understand that the fear, anxiety, and pain that you and your family are going through following a personal injury, and we are dedicated to doing everything we can to help our clients get the help they need. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.