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In the event of an accident or injury, any involved party should promptly seek the answer to one important question: How long after an accident can you file a lawsuit? As with most legal questions, the answer is more complicated than one might expect, and will depend on the particulars of the incident. The quickest way to find the correct answer for your own case is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. At Avrek Law, we offer free consultations with no hidden cost or obligation – all you need to do is pick up the phone.
If you’d rather do more research on your own before contacting a lawyer, there are certain fundamentals of accident law that are important to understand. First and foremost, how long after an accident can you sue ultimately depends on a concept known as the statute of limitations. In plain terms, the statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit before the final deadline. This time frame is primarily determined by the state where the incident occurred, and the type of incident.
What is the statute of limitations in California?
California’s statute of limitations is among the more complex in the nation. While certain types of cases in the state have the same time limit, the date that limit begins can differ depending on the circumstances of the incident.
When pursuing a medical malpractice case against a health-care provider, for example, California Code of Civil Procedure 340.5 states that the statute of limitations begins either three years from the date of the injury, or one year from the date the plaintiff became aware of the injury – whichever comes first.
Some of the more common statutes of limitations in California are:
- 1 Year – CCP § 340(c): Libel (defamed in print, writing, or pictures) or slander (defamed verbally)
- 2 Years – CCP § 335.1: Unintended injury or death
- 3 Years – CCP § 338: Unintentional property damage or destruction
- 4 Years – CCP § 337: Civil actions relating to a written contract
- 10 Years – CCP § 337.15: Latent defects in design or planning that result in damage
Other factors that can significantly impact the time limit for individual cases include whether a case is being filed against a government agency, and a complex topic called “tolling.” In tolling, the statute of limitations may be suspended for a certain amount of time. This typically occurs when the defendant is a minor, is out of state, in prison, or has been clinically determined to be insane.
Due to the unusual complexities of such cases, the Judicial Branch of California strongly recommends speaking with a lawyer when tolling is involved. The attorneys at Avrek Law have extensive experience in tolling cases – if this applies to you, contact us for a no-obligation consultation, entirely free of charge.
How long can you sue someone after a car accident in California?
In California, a car accident can fall under two primary types of cases, both of which have a different statute of limitations. If unintentional damage to property was the only result of the accident, you have three years to sue the offending party. In the case of a car accident, a vehicle is the most common type of property damage, but this can extend to other types of property impacted in the collision as well. For example, if a car crashes into a home, the owner of the house would have three years from the time of the incident to file suit against the driver.
If you were unintentionally injured by another party in a car accident, California’s statute of limitations for the incident is two years from the date of injury. In the event that the injury is not discovered until later, the statute of limitations changes to one year from the date of the discovery.
How long do you have to sue someone in Arizona?
In Arizona, unlike California, the time limit to sue after car accident injuries or property damage is the same – two years. For other civil matters, the time limit varies.
The general statutes of limitations for some of the more common civil cases in Arizona are:
- 1 Year – ARS § 12-541: Malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, libel or slander, breach of employment contract, or wrongful termination
- 2 Years – ARS § 12-542: Injury to property, injury to person (including medical malpractice), or injury where death ensues
- 3 Years – ARS § 12-543: Oral debt with no contract in writing, or relief for fraud or mistakes
- 4 Years – ARS § 12-544/5/6 and 550: For matters of business agreements between merchants or partners
- 6 Years – ARS § 12-548: Written contracts for debt executed in Arizona, or credit card debt
As stated in the Arizona Revised Statute 12-550, a civil matter with no specific limitation prescribed has a statute of limitations of four years.
How long after an accident can you sue in Nevada?
Similar to California, the statute of limitations in Nevada varies between personal injury and property damage cases. This means that if you were involved in a car accident in Nevada, the time limit to pursue a case will differ depending on whether there was an injury, or not.
Several of the more common types of civil cases affected by Nevada’s statutes of limitations (and their accompanying time limits) are:
- 2 Years – NRS § 11.190(4)(c)(e): Libel, slander, personal injury, or wrongful death
- 3 Years – NRS § 11.190(3)(b)(c): Property damage or trespass
- 4 Years – NRS § 11.190(2)(c): Actions related to a contract not in writing
- 4 OR 6 Years – NRS § 11.190(1)(b): Actions related to a contract in writing
When Do You Sue for a Car Accident or Other Injury?
While the time limits above can be taken as general guidelines, it’s important to understand that any number of factors can affect the actual statute of limitations for your case. If you’ve been in in an automotive collision, it’s important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible in order to ascertain an accurate time limit to sue after car accident injuries (or property damage) sustained.
Do you have questions about your case, like how long after a car accident can you sue? The attorneys at Avrek Law have more than 50 years of combined experience successfully resolving complex personal injury cases in the states of California, Nevada, and Arizona. With more than $1 Billion recovered in more than 10,000 cases, we’re here to help. Contact us today for a consultation – we can answer the questions you have, completely free of charge!