| Read Time: 3 minutes | Car Accidents
How Long After A Car Accident Can You Sue in California

In California, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident is generally two years from the date of the accident. Thus, under California’s statute of limitations, you have a window of two years from the date of the accident to initiate legal action against the responsible party or parties. If you fail to file your lawsuit within this time frame, the court will likely dismiss your case, and you may lose the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries and damages.

It’s essential to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident, even if you’re uncertain about pursuing a lawsuit. This early consultation can help you understand your rights, evaluate the strength of your case, and ensure that you meet all relevant deadlines and requirements. Additionally, gathering evidence and building a solid case may take time, so it’s in your best interest to begin the legal process promptly if you believe you have a valid claim.

Exceptions to California’s Statute of Limitations 

There are exceptions and variations to California’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases. 

Government Claims

If your injury involves a government entity or government employee, you typically have a shorter time frame to act. In California, you must often file a formal claim with the government agency responsible within six months of the injury. If the claim is denied, you have six months from the denial date to file a lawsuit. 


When the injured party is a minor, the statute of limitations is often “tolled,” meaning it doesn’t begin until the minor turns 18 years old. So, for example, if a child is injured at age 10, they have until their 20th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit.


If the injured party was under a legal disability, such as being mentally incapacitated, at the time of the injury, the statute of limitations may be extended until they regain capacity.

Discovery Rule

In some cases, the statute of limitations may start when the injury or its cause is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. This rule can apply to cases where injuries from medical malpractice or exposure to harmful substances are not immediately apparent.

Product Liability

For product liability claims, the statute of limitations can be more complex and might depend on factors such as when the product was purchased or the injury occurred. 

These exceptions and variations underscore the importance of consulting with an auto accident attorney as soon as possible after an injury. A car accident lawyer can assess your specific situation, determine the applicable statute of limitations, and guide you through the legal process to ensure you don’t miss important deadlines for your claim.

California’s Statute of Repose 

California has a statute of repose for car accident cases. The statute of repose in California is typically known as the “statute of ultimate repose” for product liability cases, including those involving car accidents caused by defective vehicles or components. 

The statute of ultimate repose sets an outer limit on the time within which a product liability lawsuit can be filed. It states that, regardless of when the injury occurred or was discovered, a product liability lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death related to a defective product must be filed within ten years of the product’s first sale or lease to the initial user or consumer.

How Does the Statute of Repose Impact Car Accident Lawsuits?

In the context of car accidents, this means that if a car accident was caused by a defect in the vehicle or one of its components, the injured party or their family typically has up to 10 years from the date of the vehicle’s initial sale to file a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the defective product.

It’s important to note that the statute of ultimate repose differs from the statute of limitations, which sets a time limit from the date of the injury or its discovery. The statute of repose provides a more extended time frame but is a strict cutoff after ten years from the product’s initial sale.

It’s essential to consult with an attorney with experience in understanding the complex interplay between personal injury and product liability cases in California to understand how the statute of repose may apply to your specific circumstances.

How Long After A Car Accident Can You Sue in California?

If you were recently injured in a California car accident, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. However, generally, you must do so within the two-year statute of limitations. At Yousefi Law, our experienced California car accident attorney has extensive experience investigating, negotiating and litigating motor vehicle accident lawsuits. We will ensure that your claim is both timely and compelling, maximizing your chances of recovering fair compensation for what you’ve been through. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation today, give the Yousefi Law a call or connect with us through our secure online contact form.

Author Photo

Attorney Ali Yousefi is the founder of Law Offices of Ali Yousefi, P.C., and has distinguished himself as one of the leading lawyers in California. Ali values that his work allows him to make a direct, positive impact on the lives of people who have experienced stressful or traumatic events.

Rate this Post
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars