Statute of Limitations for Hit and Runs in California

A hit-and-run accident is an auto accident where at least one party fails to stop to exchange information after the accident occurs. If you were present at the scene of the accident, it is important to try to immediately record as much information as you can about the vehicle, such as the make, model, color, and license plate number.

Additionally, it is necessary to:

  • report the accident to the appropriate police, sheriff or Highway Patrol office within 24 hours; and
  • file a written statement under oath with the insurer that the insured has a cause of action for damages arising out of the accident against a person whose identity is unascertainable "and set forth facts in support thereof" within 30 days thereafter.

If you did not witness the car accident, record the date, time, place, and damage, to the best of your ability. In either case, you should reach out to an experienced hit and run lawyer as soon as possible to help you recover compensation for the damages resulting from the hit-and-run accident. Damages can include past and future medical expenses relating to injuries suffered, lost wages, lost future earnings, and monetary recovery for emotional distress, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.

What is a statute of limitations?

A statute of limitations provides the maximum amount of time after an incident that an individual can begin legal proceedings based on that incident. A statute of limitations is a deadline for filing a lawsuit. Once the statute of limitations runs, the claim is no longer valid.

What is the statute of limitations for a hit-and-run accident?

Most personal injury claims in California have a two year statute of limitations (speak to your personal injury lawyer about exceptions to this rule), hit and run accidents included. You may have heard that California recently enacted a bill that extends the statute of limitations on hit and run accidents to six years. This is true, but only in criminal cases.

Therefore, in a civil case, the statute of limitations for hit and runs in California has not changed. In California, car accident claims fall within the realm of personal injury and California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1 provides that an individual has two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit against the other driver or insurance company to obtain financial reimbursement for damages from a personal injury. After two years from the date of injury, the statute of limitations expires. However, if the injury was not discovered at the time of the incident, then you have one year from the date that you discovered the injury. Make sure you discuss these details with an experienced hit and run accident lawyer in Los Angeles.

Again, it is important to note that California's new law, which extends the criminal statute of limitations from 3 years to 6 years, does not change the deadline to file a civil lawsuit for personal injuries caused by the hit-and-run driver.

Should you speak to an attorney if you were involved in a hit and run?

The process of obtaining financial reimbursement for your personal injury may prove to be difficult without the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney. The case may become very complicated, and you should retain an attorney who is experienced in the field of auto accidents and personal injury law as soon as possible after the accident.


Topics:  Car Accident, Hit-and-Run, Statute of Limitations

Published In: Personal Injury Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation | Attorney Advertising

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