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Car accident victims may be out of luck if they don't act fast

Being injured in a car wreck is often a tragic and difficult experience. Not only must you focus on the treatment of your injuries, but you may also be left unable to work and with mountains of medical debt.

Fortunately, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries under California law, although there many mistakes you need to avoid if you hope to have a successful legal claim. For example, you need to act quickly following your accident or risk having your claim denied for being filed too late - especially if you are in an accident with a government vehicle.

You may have a very short time to file a claim

Even though the statute of limitations for filing a legal claim following most car accidents is a full two years in California, you only have six months to file a special administrative claim if you are involved in an accident with a vehicle owned by a state or local government entity, including any agency, department or commission.

This same six-month period also applies if a government agency is responsible for your accident in some way. For instance, you crash your car because the highway or road you are traveling on was poorly or dangerously designed by a state or local government agency.

If you are able to file your administrative claim within the six-month window, the government will have 45 days to review it. If the government denies your claim - which it often does - you will then have another six months to file a lawsuit in court. However, the important thing to remember is that you may be barred from bringing a lawsuit if you miss the six-month deadline to file your original claim with the government.

This six-month time limit can be particularly problematic, especially if it is not obvious right away that a government entity is on the other side. You may think you have two years to file your claim, only to realize too late you only had six months - meaning you are left holding the bag. This is one reason why it is so important to seek professional legal guidance as soon as possible following a car accident.

Source: California Courts: The Judicial Branch of California, "Statute of Limitations"

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