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What are the Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accident Claims in California?

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Know the Time Limit and Don’t Lose Out on Compensation After Your CA Motorcycle Accident

Are you injured in a California motorcycle accident? One of the most important questions you might have is: how long do I have to file a lawsuit? Fortunately, a Los Angeles motorcycle lawyer can help you determine the right timing in filing your claim.  

Statutes of limitations set the maximum time you must start a legal case after something happens. Once this time runs out, you can’t file a claim, and you lose the right to sue.

Key Summary: 

  • The statute of limitations sets the maximum time to file a lawsuit after a motorcycle accident in California.
  • Personal injury claims must be filed within two years from the accident date. 
  • Wrongful death claims must be filed within two years from the date of death.
  • Property damage claims must be filed within three years from the accident date.
  • Claims against government entities need filing within six months of the accident. An extra six months is given to file a lawsuit if the claim is denied.
  • Exceptions to these deadlines may apply, such as for minors, incapacitated plaintiffs, and cases involving fraud or concealment.
  • Missing the filing deadline typically bars you from suing. Consulting with a lawyer can help explore potential exceptions or alternatives.
  • Filing a claim promptly helps preserve evidence, ensures timely medical documentation, and strengthens your legal position.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a maximum time limit for filing a lawsuit. This time limit applies to civil and criminal cases. It varies depending on the type of case and the jurisdiction where the case is filed.

Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  • Time Limit: The statute of limitations specifies the number of years or sometimes months you have from a specific event like an accident to file a legal claim.
  • Missing the Deadline: If you wait too long and miss the deadline, you will generally be barred from filing a lawsuit, even if you have a valid claim. There can be some exceptions in certain situations, but they are rare.

What is the Purpose of the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations might seem like a small detail, but it is critical. It helps balance the interests of people who file lawsuits and those who defend against them. They also ensure evidence stays reliable and keep the court system running smoothly.

How Long Do I Have To File a Claim After A Motorcycle Accident?

The statute of limitations for motorcycle accidents depends on the type of claim you are filing:

Personal Injury Claims

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Wrongful Death

If a family member was killed in a motorcycle wreck, you would need to file a wrongful death action. The deadline to do this is two years from your loved one’s death, which could be different than the date of the collision.

Property Damage Claims

If you are seeking compensation for damage to your motorcycle or other property, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a property damage lawsuit.

Claims Against Government Entities

If your accident involved a government vehicle or occurred due to a road condition that a government entity handles, you must file a claim with the appropriate government agency within six months from the date of the accident. If the claim is denied, you have six months to file a lawsuit.

It is necessary to act within these time limits to ensure your right to seek compensation is preserved. Consulting with a Los Angeles motorcycle lawyer soon after the accident can help you navigate these deadlines and build a strong case.

Are There Exceptions to California’s Statute of Limitations?

Yes, there are exceptions to California’s statute of limitations for motorcycle accidents. These exceptions can extend or change the typical filing deadlines under certain circumstances. Here are some common exceptions:


If the injured person is a minor (under 18 years old) at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations is generally paused until they turn 18. They then have two years from their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Incapacitated Plaintiffs

If the injured person is mentally incapacitated and unable to make legal decisions, the statute of limitations may be paused until they regain the capacity to do so.

Discovery Rule

In some cases, injuries or their causes are not immediately clear. Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations begins when the injured person discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury and its connection to the accident.

Defendant’s Absence

If the defendant, the person being sued, leaves the state of California after the accident but before the lawsuit can be filed, the statute of limitations may be paused until the defendant returns to California.

Fraud or Concealment

If the defendant deliberately conceals their involvement in the accident or the fact that an injury occurred, the statute of limitations may be paused until the plaintiff discovers the fraud or concealment.

It’s critical to understand how these exceptions might apply to your specific case to ensure you do not miss critical deadlines for filing your claim.

What If I Missed The Filing Deadline? What Options Do I Have? 

It can significantly affect your ability to seek compensation if you miss the filing deadline for a motorcycle accident claim in California. Here’s what you need to know and possible actions you can take:

Legal Consequences

Courts are likely to dismiss your lawsuit if it is filed after the statute of limitations has expired. That means you lose the right to have your case heard and seek compensation through the court system. Missing the deadline can weaken your negotiating position with insurance companies, as they know you cannot threaten a lawsuit.

Possible Exceptions

There may be exceptions or tolling provisions that apply to your situation, such as the discovery rule, the defendant’s absence from the state, or the plaintiff’s minority or incapacity. A lawyer can help determine if any of these apply to your case.

If your claim involves a government entity, missing the initial six-month filing deadline is critical, but you may still have options depending on the specifics of your case.

Other Options

Even if you can’t sue, you could negotiate with the people involved or their insurance companies to settle things. But it’s harder to reach a deal without the threat of a lawsuit. If your case isn’t completely stopped by the time limit, you might still get money from insurance, depending on your policy and what happened in the accident.

While missing the filing deadline is a serious issue, speaking with legal professionals is the best step to understand your rights and explore any possible options you might still have.

Is It Best To File a Motorcycle Accident Claim Immediately?

Yes, it is generally best to file a claim or lawsuit as soon as possible after a motorcycle accident. Here are several reasons why filing immediately is advantageous:

  • Preservation of Evidence: Witnesses’ memories are clearer. Physical evidence is more likely to be intact shortly after the accident. Conditions at the accident scene can change quickly. Documenting the scene immediately can provide crucial evidence.
  • Timely Medical Documentation: Seeking medical attention immediately ensures that your injuries are documented from the outset. That is essential for proving the extent of your injuries. Immediate medical care establishes a clear link between the accident and your injuries.
  • Legal Requirements: Filing promptly ensures you meet the legal deadlines. It avoids the risk of your case being dismissed due to late filing. If your accident involves a government entity, you have a much shorter timeframe to file a claim.
  • Financial Support: Filing early can lead to quicker settlements. That can help you cover medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to the accident. Prompt filing with insurance companies is often required by policies. It can help expedite the claims process.
  • Legal Strategy: Engaging with a Los Angeles motorcycle lawyer early on allows for a thorough investigation. It also permits the development of a strong legal strategy. Early filing and legal representation can also enhance your negotiating position with insurance companies and other parties.
  • Reduction of Stress: Knowing that your claim is being handled and that you are within legal time limits can reduce the stress and anxiety associated with the aftermath of an accident.

Know The Deadline With Our Los Angeles Motorcycle Lawyer!

Knowing the statute of limitations is crucial for protecting your financial security after a motorcycle accident. By acting promptly, you can ensure you have the opportunity to seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Don’t let the clock run out on your right to compensation. If you’ve been injured in a California motorcycle accident, Conlogue Law LLP is here to discuss your case. Our Los Angeles motorcycle lawyer can advise you on the deadlines and help you navigate the legal process. We can handle various types of injury cases, including but not limited to, train accidents, truck wrecks, cruise ship incidents, and more.  

Don’t hesitate to consult our personal injury law firm if you’ve been injured in an accident. Call us today for a free initial consultation!

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