When Should You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

personal injury claims

Car accidents are sweeping across California. More than 15,300 California residents sustained serious injuries after a car accident in 2020. That’s more than 40 residents a day. You can get your life back on track by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Yet you can’t wait too long. Your claims have a statute of limitations on them, and you need to move quickly before it expires.

How long is your statute of limitations? What can cause delays before you file your lawsuit? How can you develop a strong case for yourself?

Answer these questions and you can start the long road to recovery from a car accident. Here is your quick guide.

The Statute of Limitations

California imposes a two-year statute of limitations for all car accident cases affecting adults. Once the time limit has passed, you cannot file a lawsuit pertaining to your case.

The only exception is if your injuries are not discovered right away. Internal bleeding and organ damage can take some time to notice. You have one year from the date that you or your doctor discovers an injury.

An injured minor has until they turn 18 years old and then two years after that to file their lawsuit. If you are the parent of the child, you can file a lawsuit on their behalf.

Treatment and Recovery

As soon as you get into a car accident, you should seek medical attention. Internal injuries are not immediately apparent, and they can create significant complications. Even minor injuries can be the basis for filing a personal injury claim.

Before you leave the scene of the accident, get the other driver’s contact information. This will make your insurance claim and lawsuit easier.

Do not worry about missed work or the expenses of your treatment. Focus on your recovery so your injuries do not become worse.

You can start to build your injury lawsuit while you are receiving treatment. Keep all documents related to your case, including papers about your damaged vehicle.

Record your eyewitness account of what happened. You can write a document or record your thoughts on videotape.

You should monitor your mental and emotional health over time. If you feel emotional distress due to your car accident, you should get treatment for it. You can file a claim based on emotional pain, even if you did not sustain a physical injury.


After you leave the hospital, you should spend some time gathering evidence for your case. It is very important that you talk to eyewitnesses, including the first responders. Get their observations of what happened.

Get information about the conditions on the road during your accident. Take a look at surveillance footage that captured your accident or the moments leading up to it.

You should also research the other drivers involved. If they have a history of previous accidents, your credibility may increase.

Read California car accident and personal injury laws. It’s okay if you don’t understand some terms, but give yourself a baseline. Informing yourself about these laws can help you write documents and prepare questions for your court case.

Your final step is to research lawyers in your area. You can ask your friends who have filed personal injury cases about what lawyers they recommend. You can also visit websites like Yelp and read reviews from clients about different lawyers.

Meeting With Lawyers

Once you’ve found some evidence for your case, you should start talking with lawyers.

Find a personal injury attorney with a background in car accident cases. Some attorneys specialize in other personal injuries, and they will not be as helpful as a car accident expert.

You can schedule free consultations with most lawyers. Bring documents related to your case to your meetings and ask the lawyers what they think of your case.

You should also ask them questions about their experience. Ask them for references from people with similar cases as yours.

Filing the Lawsuit

Once you hire a lawyer, they can file a case for you. After the filing, both sides of the lawsuit will undergo discovery. They will conduct research to build their cases, which can take several months.

The statute of limitations does not affect your case once you have filed in court. This means that your case may take longer than two years to play out in full, though many cases are resolved within a year.

The other party may offer you a settlement to close the case before it reaches trial. You should consider the terms of the settlement and whether it covers all of your expenses.

Some people will only pay for property damage, but not medical bills. If the money doesn’t cover everything, you should continue your lawsuit.

Your lawyer will work with a judge and the defendant’s lawyer on a trial date. They will try to schedule a date as soon as possible, but you may need to wait a few months before the trial. Remain in touch with your lawyer and continue to give them information, especially if you are receiving ongoing treatments.

The Timeline for Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims can be on a tight timeline. You almost always have two years to file your lawsuit after you get injured. Though you may want to file your case right away, you should spend time recovering.

In the meantime, you should compile documents that make your case seem credible. You can then find an attorney who will file your case for you. In total, your lawsuit can take a few months, if not a year, to play out.

But you can take the first step now. Arrowhead Accident Attorneys serves the San Bernardino area. Contact us today.

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