Car accidents happen quickly and unexpectedly. While it is good to take safety precautions and to familiarize yourself regarding what to do in the event of an accident, you can never be fully prepared for when an accident actually happens. The full ramifications of being involved in a car crash or collision, particularly one resulting in injuries, are not always immediately clear. Some types of injuries, such as bone fractures or lacerations, will be obvious and require treatment immediately. Others, such as concussions and muscle strains or sprains, develop more slowly, and the full impact of these injuries may not be felt for weeks or even months afterward. While insurance companies typically attempt to get a statement within days of the accident happening, it is best to avoid drawing any conclusions about your injuries until you have had long enough to understand their full impact. In personal injury lawsuits, the court is aware that you need time to access the full amount of damages in your claim, but at the same time, there are deadlines for filing. Being aware of the statute of limitations in regards to personal injury claims can allow you the time to get a better idea of the extent of your injuries, while ensuring your lawsuit is filed within the allotted time.
Statutes Of Limitations In Personal Injury Cases
The majority of lawsuits and court cases must be filed within a specified amount of time, regardless of the type of case it is. Each particular type of court case, such as those involving contracts, property disputes, or criminal charges, all have specific timeframes set by the court which must be adhered to. These timelines are called statutes of limitations, and under Section 335.1 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the time you were injured. This allows time for your doctor to diagnose your injuries and offer a prognosis in terms of recovery, and it also allow your attorney time to build your personal injury case. During this time, your attorney will do the following:
- Calculate the expenses incurred as the result of your injury, such as medical expenses and lost wages;
- Order medical records to determine if you will be able to make a full recovery from your injuries and what future treatments or rehabilitation may be required;
- Get statements from your doctor and medical experts regarding the potential for any permanent damages or disability you might suffer;
- Speak with passengers who were in the car and any witnesses to the accident; and
- Investigate the accident scene and obtain police reports from the night of the accident;
In addition to the above, your attorney will be handling paperwork which needs to be filed with the court and served on the opposing party in order to open your case. Your attorney will also file motions to obtain statements from the other driver and to gain access to any evidence that may be relevant in establishing your claim.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who have been injured in car accidents can expect medical costs associated with their injury to continue for as long as 18 months after the actual accident. Healing from car accident injuries takes time, and you cannot rush your recovery. The two-year statute of limitations offers a reasonable amount of time for your attorney to assess your damages and build a case to help you get the compensation you need to recover.