Filing a claim for compensation for injuries you suffered in a truck accident can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. You should understand the laws that apply to your case, and one of the most crucial ones is the statute of limitations. This law sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit, and missing it can jeopardize your ability to recover damages. An experienced truck accident lawyer can explain this law to you and ensure you do not miss this crucial deadline.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Truck Crash Cases?
The statute of limitations is the deadline you have to file your lawsuit. In truck accident cases, this deadline varies depending on the type of claim you are pursuing. Here is the statute of limitations for three common types of truck accident claims:
- Personal injuries. If you suffered injuries in the truck collision, you may deserve compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The deadline to file a lawsuit for your damages is two years from the crash date.
- Wrongful death. If your loved one died in a truck wreck, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of your family member's death, not the date of the truck accident.
- Property damages. If your auto or other property was damaged in a truck wreck, the deadline to sue for the repair or replacement cost is three years from the collision date.
What Happens if You Miss the Deadline to Sue?
If you miss the statute of limitations, you may be unable to file a lawsuit to recover damages for your injuries. The truck driver and trucking company will most likely file a motion to dismiss the case, and the court will grant it.
If this occurs, you cannot recover any compensation for your injuries through a court action, even if you have compelling evidence and a strong case. While you could still try to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company, they would have no incentive to offer you any money when they know you are barred from suing the negligent trucker and trucking company.
What Are the Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in California?
In some situations, exceptions to the statute of limitations may apply under California law. Here are three common exceptions:
If the truck driver who caused your accident is a government employee or contractor, such as a postal worker or a military service member, you have a much shorter time period to pursue your claim. You must give the state written notice of your claim within six months of the truck collision. Hiring a skilled truck accident attorney immediately in this situation is crucial so that you do not miss this short deadline or fail to follow the special procedures for filing your claim.
If your child was injured in the truck crash and is a minor, the statute of limitations is tolled or paused until they are 18. They will have two years from their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit.
However, you can pursue their claim on their behalf before they become an adult. You must follow special procedures required under California law when filing the claim.
If you become incapacitated, such as in a coma, unconscious, or unable to act due to your injuries, the statute of limitations may be tolled until you regain your mental capacity.
How to Avoid Missing the Statute of Limitations
Retaining a knowledgeable truck accident attorney immediately after your truck crash is vital to avoid missing the statute of limitations. They can help you understand the statute of limitations that applies to your case, gather the evidence you need to win your claim, and file your lawsuit in a timely manner. By acting quickly and hiring a lawyer, you can protect your legal rights and maximize your chances of recovering compensation for your injuries.