| Read Time: 4 minutes | Truck Accidents
truck accident statute of limitations

If you have been involved in a truck accident in California, you may be unaware that you only have a limited amount of time to bring a claim.

The statute of limitations is a legal timeframe in which you have to bring an action for damages. The nature of the claim will determine how long you have to initiate a lawsuit.

Personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, and medical malpractice claims can have different statutes of limitation.

Further, the parties and unique factors to the claim may also influence the time you have to file. If you were injured by a truck in California, we strongly encourage you to immediately speak with a seasoned personal injury attorney to preserve your rights. 

California Truck Accident Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations on suing for damages in a truck accident can vary. However, in California, you generally only have two years from the date of the accident to initiate a lawsuit.

Exceptions & Special Circumstances

Like most things in the law, there are exceptions to the general rule. While most truck accident victims have two years to initiate their claim, exceptions and particular circumstances might shorten or extend this timeframe. 

Under certain circumstances, a plaintiff may have over two years to file their claim.

For instance, individuals who are minors at the time of the accident will have two years from their 18th birthday to file their lawsuit. In other words, the two-year statute will toll, or pause, until they turn 18.

Other exceptions include individuals who are mentally or physically incapable of filing a claim within two years and individuals who do not immediately discover an injury caused by the accident. 

Tolling or Suspending of the Statute of Limitations

Exceptions exist to benefit injured accident victims in situations in which two years is an unreasonable amount of time to bring a case. There are also factors unique to the defendant or responsible party that may toll the statute, including:

  • The defendant is a minor,
  • The defendant is incarcerated,
  • The defendant is residing out of state, or
  • The defendant is not of sound mind.

The plaintiff’s two-year statute will begin to run when these factors are no longer present. For instance, when the defendant is released from prison. 

Truck Accident Statute of Limitations Government Agency Exception

One of the most important exceptions to be aware of is the government agency exception. 

If you are injured in a truck accident owned, operated, or controlled by a government agency, you will have a significantly shorter time to bring your claim.  

You must file an administrative claim with the government within six months of your injury for most of these claims. Once received, the agency has 45 days to respond. If they deny your claim, you only have another six months to initiate a lawsuit.

This timeline is substantially shorter than a personal injury or property damage claim against an individual. Hence, it is imperative to speak with counsel immediately to determine if a government agency might be liable for your injuries. 

Government claims can also arise out of cases involving unsafe or unmaintained roads. For example, suppose a municipal, county, city, or state road is left in a dangerous condition (e.g., large potholes) and causes a truck to crash into you. In that case, the government may be partially liable, and your timeframe for filing a claim will be substantially less. 

Amid physical and emotional recovery, determining the applicable deadline and keeping track of time can be challenging. Working with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible can help ensure that you do not miss your deadline.

Additionally, pursuing your claim while the events are still relatively fresh in your mind, evidence is still available, and potential witnesses can still be located is essential. 

What to Do After a Truck Accident

Being involved in any car accident can be scary, but those involving trucks can be even more frightening. It can take hours, days, and even weeks for the shock and anxiety to subside.

Having a checklist to guide you through can be immensely helpful. Here are the steps you should take after a commercial truck or big rig crash.

Obtain the Trucker’s Information

You should obtain the driver’s information, including their name, driver’s license, and the trucking company’s insurance information.

You will want to have the driver’s personal information as well as the company’s information. One or both may be liable for the accident. If the truck driver caused the crash, you must file a claim with the company’s insurance carrier.

Contact Your Insurance Company

You should also contact your insurance company to notify them of the accident, even if you were not at fault for the crash.

Most insurance carriers require policyholders to inform them of any accident, regardless of fault. This can be particularly important if the driver or trucking company is underinsured or fled the scene.

Document Your Expenses

Keep track of all expenses related to the wreck, including medical bills, vehicle repair invoices, new car replacement estimates, towing fees, rental car costs, and any other expenses stemming from the accident. Keeping them well organized will be beneficial later.

Consult an Attorney 

You should schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can assist you with gathering the necessary evidence to file your claim, including:

  • The accident or police report,
  • Witness statements,
  • Video surveillance,
  • Expert reports,
  • Medical records and 
  • Accident reconstruction evidence.

An experienced truck accident attorney will have the resources to investigate a crash thoroughly, negotiate with the insurance company, and hold the responsible parties liable. 

Get in Contact with a California Truck Accident Attorney

At Peerali Law, we provide personalized representation in catastrophic injury cases. Contact our team today if you are wondering how long you or a loved one has to sue for damages in a truck accident.

As American Association of Justice members, we are committed to helping our clients seek justice and compensation for their injuries. Call today to schedule a free consultation

Author Photo

Kristopher earned his J.D. at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law where he was a member of the Review of Law and Social Justice honors law journal and was awarded several scholastic honors.

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