In most California car accident cases, you generally must file a brain injury claim within two years from the car accident date. Two years may seem like a long time, but when dealing with substantial injuries after a car crash, it can go by quickly, especially if you have a brain injury. 

Often, brain injuries are not immediately apparent. They may take days, weeks, or months to develop or present themselves. Once you are diagnosed with a brain injury, they usually require extensive treatment and recovery. This leads to mounting medical bills and other costs.

Following a car accident, you should meet with an attorney sooner rather than later to secure your right to a compensation claim to cover your losses. Fortunately, GJEL Accident Attorneys can help those suffering from brain injuries after California car accidents. Our top-rated client-centered attorneys know the impact of a brain injury. Thus, we can arrange to meet you at a convenient location—a hospital, a rehab center, your home, or our office. Contact us today for help with your brain injury claim.

brain injury claim

California Car Accident Statute of Limitations

Like all other states, California has a statute of limitations by which an individual must file a personal injury lawsuit. In other words, there is a time limit or deadline for an injured individual to file a personal injury lawsuit after being involved in a car accident. Generally, it’s two years for a California car accident.

Many clients wonder why there are statutes of limitations. The simple answer is that statutes of limitations help ensure that lawsuits are filed in a timely manner. This ensures that evidence is still available and the memories of witnesses are fresh. Because witnesses move, age, and die, pursuing your case while they are available and their memories are reliable is crucial. 

For potential defendants, statutes of limitations ensure that a person cannot be subjected to lawsuits for infinite amounts of time. If someone has a claim against them, they must file it by a certain date. If they do not, the potential defendant can proceed accordingly.

How Long After an Accident Do I Have to File a Brain Injury Claim?

California’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, including car accidents resulting in brain injuries, is two years. This statute of limitations generally applies to car accidents and other non-medical malpractice personal injury cases. Please be mindful that claims relating to brain injuries caused by medical malpractice only have a one-year statute of limitations from when the victim discovers the injury or three years from the date of injury, whichever occurs first.

Date of Discovery

If you are a car accident victim, you typically have two years from the accident date to file your lawsuit. However, there are some important statute of limitations exceptions. The statute of limitations doesn’t start until an accident victim discovers or should have reasonably discovered their injury. Let’s say an accident victim does not learn that they suffered a brain injury until after the car accident. The two-year statute of limitations would start when they discover the injury rather than the date of the accident. 

In this example, the responsible party may argue the victim should have discovered the injury sooner. The victim must prove they took the necessary steps to treat their injuries and did not delay medical treatment. This conflict between parties is why having an experienced California car accident injury attorney on your side is crucial. 

Government Entity

If the defendant in your case is a government entity such as the state, county, city, municipality, or school district, the statute of limitations reduces exponentially. You will only have six months from the date of the injury to file a claim against that government agency. Then, if they deny your claim, you have six months to initiate a civil lawsuit.  


A minor generally has two years from the date they turn 18 to file a lawsuit for a personal injury, like a brain injury, regardless of when the accident or injury occurred. Under California law, the statute of limitations does not start to run until they reach the age of majority, which is 18. In other words, if a child suffered a brain injury in a car crash when they were 15, they will have until they are 20 to file a lawsuit because the two-year statute of limitations doesn’t begin until they turn 18.

Incapacitated or Comatose 

Brain injuries are some of the most severe and complex injuries the human body can sustain in a car wreck. Many times, severe brain injuries can render the victim mentally incapacitated or in a comatose state. In that case, the statute of limitations clock begins to run when you regain consciousness or functionality. 

The statute of limitations clock is also suspended when someone is medically insane or lacks capacity. It does not begin until they regain capacity or are no longer medically insane. An experienced lawyer can help you thoroughly assess your case to determine your filing deadline.

Symptoms of a Brain Injury After a Car Accident

It is common for brain injuries to be symptomless and go unnoticed, undiagnosed initially, and as a result, untreated. 

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • A persistent headache,
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting,
  • Confusion,
  • Sudden memory loss,
  • Slurred speech, 
  • Inability to form a sentence,
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much,
  • Trouble focusing,
  • Loss of balance 
  • Difficulty walking,
  • Mood swings, and 
  • Abrupt personality changes. 

It is common to experience one or more of these symptoms simultaneously or at varying stages following your car accident. 

Common Types of Brain Injuries

There are several types of traumatic brain injuries. If you were involved in a horrific car accident, you might have more than one. Any brain injury can be devastating and leave you with a loss of brain function and other disabilities.


A concussion is one of the most common types of brain injuries and can be minor or severe. Concussion victims typically exhibit various symptoms, including:

  • Headache, 
  • Nausea, 
  • Vomiting, 
  • Dizziness, and 
  • Brain fog. 

Some concussions occur after a loss of consciousness, but not all do. 


A hematoma is a pool or collection of blood within the skull. This is often caused by a burst blood vessel in the brain. 

Skull Fracture

A skull fracture is any break within the skull that can range from minor to severe. Skull fractures can injure your brain in several ways, including when fractured pieces penetrate the brain.  

Contact an Attorney Immediately for Your Brain Injury Claim 

Following any car accident resulting in injury, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. However, it is especially critical for you to get a lawyer involved quickly after a brain injury from a car collision. Brain injury cases tend to be complex and challenging. Experienced counsel, like GJEL Accident Attorneys, can investigate your claim and set you up for a successful outcome. 

With GJEL, you’re in good hands. We take time to develop our relationships with our clients to create a legal strategy tailored to each person’s specific needs. Plus, we have a 99% success rate. Contact us today.

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