Don’t Wait to Contact an Attorney About Your California Personal Injury Claim
In most cases, you have two years from the date of an auto accident or other incident to file a personal injury lawsuit in California. If you fail to file your claim within this period, known as the statute of limitations, you can be forever barred from having your case heard in court and obtaining a verdict or judgment to compensate you for your medical expenses, pain and suffering and other legal damages.
California Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Actions
In some circumstances, the statute of limitations may be considerably shorter than two years from the date of injury (or two years from date of death in the case of an action for wrongful death). For instance, most medical malpractice cases must be brought within one year of the date the injury is discovered, and if your claim is against a government entity, such as in the case of a bus accident or a slip and fall on public property, then you must file a claim within six months. By retaining a knowledgeable and skilled California personal injury attorney, you can be assured that the proper statute of limitations will be identified and that the deadline will not be missed.
Even a two-year statute of limitations is not as long as it seems. If you were seriously injured, your focus is likely on your physical recovery and rehabilitation, and it may be quite some time before you feel ready to take on the pressures of a lawsuit or the challenges of dealing with an insurance company. If you lost a loved one, grief and mourning and settling probate likely take precedence in your mind over seeking whatever compensation may be owed to you. If you are in negotiations with the insurance company, they are likely either to offer a quick settlement that vastly undervalues the worth of your case, or to drag on negotiations past the point at which you can file suit. Either way can prove disastrous to your case.
Contacting A Personal Injury Lawyer Protects Your Rights
Making sure you meet the statute of limitations is not the only reason for contacting an attorney sooner rather than later. A lawyer is not likely to file a lawsuit right away and will likely wait until you are considered medically stationary by your doctors. However, your attorney will go to work right away preparing your case. An experienced California personal injury attorney will make sure the accident is properly investigated and make a record of the facts before memories fade, witnesses move, or evidence dissipates. Preparing the case from the outset is essential to a successful outcome, whether your case goes to trial or settles at any point along the way.
You may think that your injury is not very severe at first, and that you won’t need help getting the compensation that is coming to you. You may think you can work things out with the insurance company on your own. Or you may think that you have plenty of time to call a lawyer if you need one. But hesitating to contact a personal injury lawyer after an accident can not only decrease the value of your case; you may end up shut out from collecting any money at all.