When you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident, you might have the legal right to pursue compensation. When someone else’s actions caused your injuries, California law allows you to pursue a personal injury claim against them. However, there are legal deadlines you must adhere to. Otherwise, the court might dismiss your case entirely. Understandably, we receive numerous questions regarding these types of claims, including questions like, How long do I have to file a motorcycle accident claim in California?
In most scenarios, you have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit in the proper court. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. However, that two-year deadline is not set in stone. Some situations could increase your allotted filing time or decrease it to less than two years. These complexities are one of the many reasons you should consider hiring a California motorcycle accident lawyer to represent you. Do not count on California’s motorcycle accident statute of limitations to always be two years without first speaking with a qualified attorney.
What Happens When You Miss the Statute of Limitations?
Judges are not very forgiving when you miss legal deadlines, especially the statute of limitations. In most situations, the judge assigned to your case will dismiss it entirely when the defendants show you missed the filing deadline. Unfortunately, whether the other driver’s insurance company previously made a settlement offer does not matter.
If you were in the middle of negotiations when the deadline passed, the defendant’s insurance company is under no legal obligation to continue settlement talks without proof of filing. You would need to have accepted their offer and signed the release of all claims to move forward after the filing deadline has passed. You can’t go back and suddenly say you want to accept an earlier offer because the statute of limitations has now expired.
Examples of Exceptions to the California Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accidents
Understanding what some of the exceptions to the two-year rule are can help show why it’s crucial to hire a California motorcycle accident lawyer. There’s no guarantee that any of the exceptions apply to you. Don’t wait to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer, or you might inadvertently jeopardize your entire case.
Delayed Discovery Rule
The delayed discovery rule essentially gives you additional time beyond the normal statute of limitations because an injury was not discovered until long after the accident. In motorcycle accident claims, this is not as likely to happen. Delayed discovery of injuries is more applicable to medical malpractice claims and product liability lawsuits for toxic chemical exposure.
When a victim dies from their motorcycle accident-related injuries, certain surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations becomes two years from the date of death rather than two years from the date of the accident. Wrongful death claims also involve damages that are different from damages that would be available in a personal injury lawsuit for motorcycle accident injuries.
Defendant Leaves the State or Is Incarcerated
Sometimes a defendant temporarily leaves the state and doesn’t return for several years. That means you cannot file a lawsuit and serve them in California. Your deadline to file might be extended to account for the defendant’s absence from California’s jurisdiction. In other scenarios, the defendant might be incarcerated for their role in the accident or due to another unrelated criminal act. The law considers this when calculating the motorcycle accident statute of limitations.
Victim Is a Minor or Lacks Mental Capacity
If the plaintiff is under 18 or lacks the mental capacity to make legal decisions, the court will extend the deadline. Someone who suffers severe brain damage in an accident might not have the mental capacity to sue for several years while they recover.
The Other Party Is a Government Entity
If the defendant was driving a vehicle owned by a city or county agency, legal deadlines change dramatically. You could have as little as six months to file a claim against that government agency. That’s why you shouldn’t wait to contact an attorney. Six months can fly by as you undergo treatment and work on your recovery.
Hiring a California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
You need a legal advocate to protect your rights when you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident. If you have questions about “how long do I have to file a motorcycle accident claim” in California, contact Beliz Law Firm. We have nearly two decades of experience assisting injured victims in motorcycle accident claims. Our legal team understands what’s at stake and the importance of not missing legal deadlines. You should be concentrating on your recovery and not worried about how much time you have to file a claim. Don’t risk your potential settlement by trying to handle a motorcycle accident injury claim by yourself. Contact Beliz Law Firm to schedule an initial consultation to learn how we can help you.