In California there are different time limits for when you need to file based on who was involved in the accident, their age, and their affiliation with a government agency.
In general, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in California is two years after the date of the accident, not the date you initially discovered your injury, though it's possible for your attorney to argue this for you. After this time has passed the courts will not hear your case. One exception is if the accident involved a government vehicle or property. If so, then you must report it within 6 months, and a separate process will be undertaken involving that government agency. Another is if a minor is involved in an accident, in which case you have up until 2 years after the minor turns 18 and thus becomes legal.
By contrast, you have three years to file a collision claim if you suffered any property damage.
Much of the neck and back pain associated with car accidents happens to begin hours, days, or even weeks after the accident. Over time, the tension and pain will become apparent, and may even immobilize you if joints and muscles become too stiff. Physical therapy may be required, leading to hefty medical bills, and perhaps even time off if your injuries render you incapable of going to work.
The best thing to do after an accident is to accept medical treatment, if offered, or on your own. However, if you didn't, then you have two years from the date that you noticed the injury to file your claim. It is important that you speak to an attorney about these complex situations.
Beware of these traps that can make you rationalize not calling an attorney.
● Too overwhelmed by stress: This is one of the hardest reasons because it can be tied up with so many emotions regarding the accident. It leads to a lack of motivation, difficulty in concentrating, and soon the list of responsibilities and people to call becomes too much. But an experienced car accident lawyer will help make sense of the law for you, and explain each step in the process. With their counsel, you will see that mountain of stress shrink.
● Fear of costs: An attorney can help you recuperate fees and even help you get reimbursed for medical bills you've paid. If you wait too long to have the money, you might risk missing the deadline to file your claim.
● Waiting until your health has improved: It is understandable that you would want to focus on your health, and certainly in critical situations the priority is getting back to a stable condition. However, once that is achieved, you want to contact an attorney right away. You don't need to be physically mobile to work with your attorney.
If you're losing money because you can't work, or are inundated with medical bills, then it cannot be stressed enough to contact an attorney right away before any of the deadlines have passed. A compassionate personal injury attorney with a track record of success can ease the burden for you, and help you get back to living your life again.