Time Limits for Filing a Car Accident Claim

After the trauma of a car accident, it’s common to focus either on recovering from painful injuries, or on relief that you and your family have emerged unscathed. It’s difficult to shift attention to addressing the legal aspects of a car accident, but there are important deadlines the state requires for car accident victims, particularly if they want to recover compensation for damages like property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages. Our car accident attorneys in Encino highlight the significance of understanding California’s time limits for reporting an accident and filing a car accident claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance. This process helps to streamline the financial recovery so you can focus on your physical recovery.

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Time Limits for Reporting the Car Accident

Car accident victims in California face the first important time limit immediately after the accident. When it’s a minor fender bender with no injuries and under $1,000 in damages, the drivers do not have to call the police to the scene. However, they must report the accident to local law enforcement or California Highway Patrol within 24 hours of the accident. Accident victims may report the accident online through the state’s reporting system. For any accident with injuries or property damage over $1,000, the police must be called to the scene. When police arrive at a car accident, they make out the report and the accident victims can request copies online.

Drivers must also report an accident to the DMV within 10 days of the accident date.

Finally, drivers must always report the accident to their insurance companies. Even if you were not at fault for the accident, many policies require that you report any accident. Failing to report an accident to your insurance company could prevent you from collecting compensation through your uninsured motorist protection policy should the other driver be uninsured or under-insured.

What Is the Time Limit for Car Accident Claims in California?

Most car accident attorneys recommend timing a claim for compensation within a few weeks from the accident, not so early that you don’t yet know the full extent of your damages, but not so late that you run out of time to file a lawsuit if the insurance company fails to offer an acceptable settlement. Like all states, California limits the amount of time after an accident that a victim may file a lawsuit. California’s statute of limitations for car accident claims is two years from the date of the accident.

Nearly 90% of car accident claims are settled outside of court through a car accident’s negotiations with the insurance company. However, in some cases, the insurance company disputes the claim or tries to assign an undue portion of fault to the victim to lower the payout. In these cases, the claim could proceed to a lawsuit to recover compensation as long as the victim files the petition before the state’s two-year statute of limitations expires.

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits?

In an accident involving a government entity such as a city bus agency, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is only six months. Additionally, some limited exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations extend it for some accident victims. For example, if an accident victim is unconscious or incapacitated for some time after the accident, they have until two years after they regain cognitive ability to file a claim. Those who are under the age of 18 when an accident occurs have up to two years after their 18th birthday to file a claim. If a car accident victim discovers an injury later, the two-year time limit begins on the day of discovery.

Call the California Car Accident Lawyers at Younglove Law Firm

Time limits for reporting accidents and the state’s statute of limitations for lawsuits serve the purpose of ensuring that important evidence remains available and eyewitness testimony is reliable when a case goes to court. If you have questions about how time limits and the state’s statute of limitations for car accident claims affect your car accident case, contact the experienced car accident lawyers at Younglove Law Firm for a free consultation.