If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident through no fault of your own, you have the right to seek compensation for the resulting damages from all liable parties. While putting together a claim may be the last thing on your mind when recovering from serious injuries, it is essential that you act fast. Should the opposing party refuse to pay a fair settlement, you may have no choice but to file a lawsuit, but you have a limited amount of time in which to do so.
In California, the standard statute of limitations for personal injury suits is two years from the date on which the cause of action occurred. That means you might have just 24 months from when you were hurt to proceed to court.
This may seem like a considerable amount of time, but the filing deadline will be looming before you know it. If it takes several weeks for your condition to stabilize, for example, and several more months for you to reach maximum medical improvement, you may not even commence the negotiations until a year or more has passed. And if negotiations do not yield a settlement, the lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations has passed.
The two-year deadline also applies to wrongful death suits. If your loved one ended up dying from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, for example, your family would likely have 24 months to sue those who were liable.
While these statutes of limitations might seem reasonable enough, it’s important to remember that they don’t apply to every personal injury suit. As such, you shouldn’t automatically assume you have two years to take legal action after getting hurt in a motorcycle accident. If an exception happens to apply to your situation, the amount of time you have to file suit may be considerably shorter or longer.
If a government entity was responsible for the wreck—either directly or vicariously—you will have between six months and one year to file an administrative claim, depending on the jurisdiction. The agency in question then has 45 days to review your case, conduct an investigation, and respond.
If they deny your request for compensation, you will have six months from when the rejection letter was mailed or personally delivered to file suit. If you don’t receive notice of the denial, though, you will have two years from when the cause of action occurred to file a formal lawsuit.
As previously mentioned, there are also scenarios that could extend the lawsuit filing deadline. For example, when a minor gets hurt, the clock doesn’t start until his or her 18th birthday. That means injured minors typically have until their 20th birthday to take legal action. The deadline may also be extended for claimants who were not mentally competent at the time of injury.
Bankruptcy proceedings can toll the statute of limitations, as well. If the party who was liable for your injuries has an automatic stay in place, you won’t be able to sue him or her until the bankruptcy has been resolved.
When Should I Call a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
Because there are so many variables that can influence the lawsuit filing deadline, it is wise to consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as your health stabilizes. A resourceful attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to identify all responsible parties. This, in turn, will allow him or her to determine precisely how long you have to bring your suit.
Calling a lawyer right away will also give your legal team the opportunity to gather time-sensitive evidence while it’s still available. Much of the evidence you will need to prove liability may eventually be altered or destroyed.
Some of the most valuable pieces of time-sensitive evidence include:
- Eyewitness deposition: An eyewitness’s account of events becomes less reliable with time. If other motorists, passengers, or pedestrians saw the accident, your attorney will want to reach out and obtain their statements as soon as possible.
- Video footage: If the wreck was captured by surveillance cameras overlooking the scene or dash cams that were on vehicles in the vicinity, the owners of the footage are under no obligation to retain it for an extended period of time. As such, you will want to reach out as soon as possible after the crash to request a copy of each relevant recording.
- Black box data: If any of the vehicles that were involved were equipped with event data recorders, or black boxes, their data can reveal what happened in the moments leading up to the wreck. Much like video footage, though, this data may eventually be overwritten.
- Driver logs: If you were struck by a big rig, the trucker’s driver logs could serve as valuable evidence. Perhaps the trucker fell asleep behind the wheel, for example, because he or she violated the hours of service regulations. Since motor carriers are only obligated to retain these logs for six months, you will have to reach out fairly soon in the aftermath to obtain copies.
Call (562) 206-1939 for a Free Consultation with a Long Beach Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident through no fault of your own, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks. To schedule a free consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney in Long Beach and discuss your case, send us an email or dial (562) 206-1939.
Download Our Motorcycle Accident Emergency Response .PDF
Even the most experienced motorcyclists are at risk of getting hurt in a wreck. All it takes is one drunk or distracted driver to cause a catastrophic collision. To ensure you’re prepared for all eventualities, print out a copy of our Car Accident Emergency Response .pdf, and keep it in your seat compartment or saddle bag. This will ensure you always have a comprehensive guide on hand to help you document the scene of an accident. Download it HERE for free.
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