Is There a Statute of Limitations on Car Damage in California?

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Car Damage in California?

If there’s one thing you don’t want to miss during your California car accident claim, it’s the statute of limitations. This is the legal term for “deadline for filing” in terms of civil claims (not car insurance claims). As in every state, there is a strict statute of limitations by which time a plaintiff, or injured party, must file his or her claim. This deadline changes depending on the type of accident and damages sought. Missing your deadline can mean giving up your right to compensation. Here are the facts for car damage claims.

Why Do Statutes of Limitations Exist?

Statutes of limitations are necessary for keeping the legal system just and fair for everyone involved. Without a deadline encouraging plaintiffs to file their claims in a timely manner, they might wait longer than is reasonable to file their claims, thus reducing the odds of a fair trial. For example, without a statute of limitations, a plaintiff could purposefully wait 10 years before filing an auto accident lawsuit, knowing that by this time the defendant could not use eyewitnesses since their accounts would no longer be reliable.

Every type of civil lawsuit has a statute of limitations. The amount of time a claimant has to file, however, will change depending on the type of lawsuit. If someone is seeking damages for personal injury in California, for example, he or she will have two years from the date of the accident to file. If someone wants restitution for a case involving libel or slander, on the other hand, he or she will only have one year from the date of the incident to file.

What Is the Deadline for Car Damage Claims?

In California, you have three years to file a claim regarding “injury to personal property,” according to the state’s Code of Civil Procedure, Section 338. In general, the clock will start ticking on the date of your auto accident. If for some reason you don’t discover your vehicle’s damages until after the fact, the clock may toll until the date of discovery. Contact a Sacramento car accident attorney to find out the exact deadline in your particular case.

The three-year time limit refers to the date by which the owner of the property must file a civil claim seeking damages with the courts. It does not describe the deadline for filing an auto insurance claim. Your auto insurance company will determine how long you have before notifying the company of property damage, but typically you have to make this call as soon as possible after a collision. Waiting too long to make an insurance claim could give the insurer grounds to deny your claim.

If your case also involved personal injuries or wrongful death in Sacramento, you will need to file your case within two years of the date of the accident. The deadline is a year shorter for personal injury claims than property damage claims. Keep in mind that you will need to file an insurance claim, identify the defendant, obtain a vehicle repair/replacement price quote, and fill out paperwork before you can bring your car damage claim in California. These steps take time, so begin building your case right away after a crash.

Don’t Wait – File Now

Missing the statute of limitations for car damage claims in California will almost always result in giving up your right to compensation. The courts will likely refuse to hear a claim that comes after the deadline. Even if the courts accept the claim, the defense can use the missed statute of limitations against the plaintiff, resulting in the courts dropping the case. Don’t wait to find help for your car damage claim in California. The sooner you call a Sacramento personal injury lawyer to start on your lawsuit, the more likely you are to obtain damage recovery.