A truck accident can be traumatic, culminating in severe injury. If you were hurt by a negligent semi-truck driver, you might need months—even years—to fully recover. You might not want to file a claim until you know what your total losses are. However, you cannot afford to wait on negotiations. If you do not take swift legal action, California’s statute of limitations may prevent you from getting the money you need to move past your injuries.
California’s Statute of Limitations on Truck Accidents
California, like every state in the country, has what is called a statute of limitations for injury claims.
A statute of limitations is a special legal construct: it creates a deadline for filing claims in certain civil and criminal cases. Any claim filed after this deadline may not be heard by the court and could be automatically dismissed, regardless of its merit.
In California, the statute of limitations for filing a truck accident claim is two years from the date of the crash.
What the Statute of Limitations Does
The statute of limitations can seem like an inconvenience. After all, some injuries are not immediately evident after an accident and can take years to really manifest.
However, the statute of limitations does serve an important legal purpose: it protects people, organizations, and government entities from frivolous or otherwise unwise lawsuits.
Even if someone has a compelling case against a truck driver or their employer, their memory of the event may fade with time. Similarly, they or the intended defendant could lose critical evidence through no fault of their own.
All of these circumstances can make it very difficult to tell who’s right and who’s wrong in a civil complaint.
The statute of limitations thus encourages people to seek swift recovery while protecting others from legal action they cannot reasonably anticipate.
What Happens When You Miss the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is an integral part of state law. While California does not always prevent people from filing a claim after the statute of limitations has passed, the courts will not usually entertain requests for damages if they are not filed in a timely manner.
Even if the judge allows you to enter a complaint, the truck driver’s attorney will almost certainly notice that your claim was filed too late. Once they inform the court, your case will be automatically dismissed.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
California offers the following few exceptions to its statute of limitations:
- People who seek to sue a government-employed or government-contracted truck driver only have six months to file an initial administrative claim.
- People who were minors at the time of their accident can extend the statute of limitations, as the two-year deadline will only commence upon after they have reached 18 years of age.
- People who were mentally or physically incapable of filing a claim within two years may file a claim after the statute of limitations.
- People who discovered a previously unknown injury may be able to extend the statute of limitations if they can show their injury was caused by the accident.
How an Attorney Can Help
Negotiating with a trucking company’s insurance agency can be intimidating, especially if they are not cooperative. An attorney can help make your recovery easier by negotiating with the insurance agency on your behalf. Firms that have dedicated commercial vehicle practices are very familiar with the trucking industry and its laws, rules, and regulations. By collecting and analyzing evidence from your accident, and any injuries it may have caused, we can build a compelling case to get you the compensation you deserve.
If the insurance company is not willing to listen to reason, we can and will take them to court to ensure you are not forced to pay for an accident that was not your fault. However, even the best attorney cannot help you if you wait too long to file a claim.
Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one was hurt—or worse—in a California truck accident, send Case Barnett Law a message today to schedule your initial consultation.