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How long can I wait before suing a negligent driver?

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

A head-on collision with a drunk driver in Contra Costa County would probably leave a person with a very serious injury requiring immediate medical treatment. Most people would not hesitate to discuss such a case with a personal injury attorney to find out what compensation the negligent driver should pay under California law.

Car accidents in which an occupant of a vehicle suffers injuries that might not appear to be serious at first, but become worse with the passage of time, may cause an individual to delay seeing a doctor. If an accident victim delays seeking medical treatment, the chances are that he or she will probably not speak to an attorney about the liability of the other driver and a lawsuit for damages.

Delays in filing a lawsuit after a car accident could jeopardize a person's claim for compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other damages because of the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the time within which a person injured due to the negligence of someone else must file a lawsuit or lose the right to compensation.

The statute of limitations in California for personal injury actions is just two years from the date of the accident. A lawsuit for damages filed more than two years after an accident is subject to dismissal by the court. There is an exception to the two-year rule for minors.

An accident victim who has not reached the age of majority at the time of an accident may toll, or delay, the running of the statute of limitations until he or she is no longer a minor. Once the person reaches the age of majority, the statute begins running for the two years.

This post is an overview of one particular area of law, but it is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. A personal injury attorney who is familiar with the facts of a particular case should be consulted for legal advice and guidance by a person injured in a car crash.