Large truck crashes have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries, even when they occur at fairly low speeds. Passenger vehicles are simply no match for big rigs, which can weigh up to 20 times more than the smallest sedans.
In other words, if you or someone you love was hurt in a truck accident, the ensuing damages can add up fast. While your family may be entitled to compensation for all such losses, you will have a limited amount of time to take legal action.
If you intend to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in California, you may have to commence the proceedings within two years. Should you attempt to file suit after this deadline has passed, the judge will likely dismiss your case.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Truck Accident Lawsuits in California
Like other states, California has allowed for several exceptions to the standard filing deadline for truck accident lawsuits. Some of these exceptions shorten the deadline considerably while others extend it. As such, it’s wise to consult a truck accident lawyer as soon as your condition stabilizes to confirm just how much time you have to act.
One exception that effectively shortens the deadline involves government entities. If you intend to bring a suit against a municipality or state agency, you will have much less time to commence the proceedings.
Generally speaking, those who wish to sue a government agency must file their initial administrative claim within just six months. The government then has 45 days to conduct an internal investigation and either accept or deny the request.
If they deny the request, the claimant has six months from the date on which the rejection letter was mailed to file a formal lawsuit. If the claimant never receives word of the denial, though, the standard statute of limitations of two years applies.
You will only have to worry about such a truncated deadline if you intend to take action against the government. Accident victims are often surprised to learn, however, that there are a lot of scenarios in which government agencies can be deemed at least partially liable for a wreck.
For example, if the trucker lost control because of a poorly designed offramp, the city planner may be to blame. The municipality could also be deemed responsible if the vehicle happens to be owned or operated by the government.
Since there’s no way to be sure the government wasn’t at fault without first investigating the accident, it’s advisable to approach your case as if you have a much shorter timeframe. In other words, don’t postpone calling an attorney.
It might take weeks—or months—for you to reach maximum medical improvement, but a resourceful lawyer can start building your case immediately. In addition to meeting even the tightest deadlines, enlisting help right away will allow your legal team to gather any time-sensitive evidence before it’s altered or destroyed.
Although rare, there are a few scenarios in which truck accident victims might have more than two years to proceed to trial. If you were a minor when you were hurt, for example, the statute of limitations won’t start running until your 18th birthday. As such, you might have until your 20th birthday to file a formal lawsuit, regardless of how much time has actually passed since the incident.
The statute of limitations is also tolled for victims who were not mentally competent at the time of injury.
Does My Truck Accident Case Have to Go to Court?
Although it’s wise to familiarize yourself with applicable filing deadlines, you can take comfort in the fact that few truck accident cases actually reach court. Most are resolved before going to trial.
As long as you have strong evidence of liability, causation, and damages, the opposing party will probably be willing to settle. Should a dispute arise, though, you may have no choice but to file a formal lawsuit.
Since navigating lengthy legal proceedings is undoubtedly the last thing you want to do when recovering from injuries, you may be wondering how to secure a fair settlement. While there’s no way to guarantee a satisfactory payout during the initial negotiations, there are steps you can take to strengthen your claim, thereby incentivizing the liable party to keep the case out of court. Examples include:
- Tracking all your damages diligently;
- Not giving a recorded statement to the opposing party;
- Seeking prompt medical care and following your doctor’s orders once you do;
- Starting a personal injury journal to record the recovery process; and
- Staying off social media for as long as the claim is pending.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Truck Accident Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
At the Law Office of Michael D. Waks, we understand the emotional and financial toll that unanticipated injuries can take on the whole family. If you or someone you love was hurt in a large truck crash, let us handle the logistics of the case so you can focus on more important matters.
Attorney Michael D. Waks has won numerous six- and seven-figure settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients. Call (562) 206-1939 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Long Beach.
Download Our Auto Accident Emergency Response .PDF
Since life is unpredictable, it’s always wise to be prepared for all eventualities. For those who drive often, that means reviewing the steps for documenting the scene of a crash. You can view them on our Auto Accident Emergency Response .pdf. To avoid overlooking any of these steps in the event of a wreck—accident scenes are, after all, inherently chaotic—print a copy to keep in your glovebox so it’s always on hand. Download it HERE for free.
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