If you were hurt in a bicycle accident caused by a negligent driver, one of the most important California laws you need to understand is the statute of limitations. This is the deadline you have to sue. If you miss it, you lose your right to pursue compensation for your injuries.
What Is the Deadline to Sue in California Bicycle Accident Cases?
In a bicycle accident case, the time period to sue is slightly different if you are pursuing a claim for your own injuries or are filing a claim because a loved one died. Here are the rules you must follow:
- Personal injuries and property damage. You must file your lawsuit within two years of the date of the bicycle collision.
- Wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit for the damages you suffered due to the death of a family member must be filed within two years of the date of their death—not the date of the accident.
Exception for Minor Children
Like many laws in California, there are exceptions to the deadline you have to file a civil lawsuit after a bicycle accident. This is true when the victim of the bicycle accident is a minor child. The statute of limitations is stopped, which is referred to as tolled, until they turn 18 years old. They would have two years from their 18th birthday to file their lawsuit.
Time Period to File a Claim Against a Government Entity
The rules are also different if your bicycle crash was caused by defects in the road or involved a negligent bus or another governmental vehicle. There is a much shorter period to file your claim with the governmental entity.
Filing a claim is different than filing a lawsuit in court. It is the process of filing your claim with the governmental entity liable to compensate you for your injuries and is similar to filing a claim with a negligent driver’s insurance company. This deadline is only six months from the date of your bicycle accident.
What Happens If You Miss the Deadline to Sue?
If you try to file a lawsuit after the time period to sue has expired, the consequences are harsh. The insurance company for the negligent driver would file a motion to dismiss your complaint, which the judge would grant. In addition, the insurance company would have no incentive to offer you a settlement because they would know that you could not sue.
Even when you have plenty of time to file your complaint, you do not want to wait to pursue your claim for compensation. If you want to win your case, you should retain an experienced bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible after your crash. To learn about your options and how I can assist you, call my San Diego office to schedule a free case evaluation.