What's The Car Claim Time Limit In California?
San José Personal Injury Attorney
Renée Yvonne Gardner
My name is Renée Yvonne Gardner, the founder and attorney at Gardner Law, a San José personal injury law office.
I help people who get hurt in car accidents in San José and in 12 California counties.
I'm here to fight for compensation for my clients' injuries. I'm also here to try to reduce my clients' stress by answering their questions the best that I can.
How Long Do I Have To Report An Accident Claim In San José?
Accidents are traumatic. It's a shock! This may make it difficult to think clearly about what to do next. At times, the psychological effects of an accident cover up a serious injury caused by an accident.
Confusion can cloud the first days and weeks after an accident. Left to cope with pain, going to the doctor, and missing work and may be very overwhelming. Often, accident victims are left without transportation because their damaged car got towed from the accident scene.
It's important to act quickly when reporting a personal injury after a car accident. There are limits on the time you have to seek compensation for your injuries.
How Long Do I Have To Make A Police Report About My Accident?
You only have 24 hours to report a vehicle accident to the California Highway Patrol or the police department of the city in which the accident occurred.
This is the rule whenever someone was hurt or killed in an vehicle accident.
If you were driving for a common carrier, like a bus or a taxi, this 24 hour period does not apply.
Common carriers must make their report the California Highway Patrol. And it must be made on or before the 10th day of the month, following the accident.
And, if you were supposed to report your accident to the San Jose Police Department but accidentally reported it to the Gilroy-Hollister CHP, you're still covered. The police where you reported the accident will send your report to the correct police department.
If a police officer came to the accident scene and investigated your accident, the officer will go ahead and file a police report. This means you yourself don't have to file another report.
What's The First Step To Deal With Auto Insurance Claims After A San José Car Accident?
Firstly, it's very important that you seek medical attention right after your accident. Certain injuries may not show up immediately after a crash. The more time that passed, the harder it will be to prove your injuries were a direct result of the accident, and not something else that happened after the accident for which you are making a claim.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations For A San José Car Accident?
A statute of limitations is a deadline to file a lawsuit in the right court against the person who caused the accident.
Although you have to report a claim to the insurance as soon as possible, that deadline is not considered the statute of limitations.
In California, you generally have two years from the date of an injury to file your lawsuit with the right court. At the two year mark, the statute of limitations expires. This means the case is automatically lost forever unless a lawsuit is on file with the court on that expiration date.
But some statutes of limitations are as short as 6 months. Speak to an attorney to be sure you don't miss yours.
Two Years Is Plenty Of Time To Not Miss My Statute Of Limitations, Right?
For most of us, two years sounds like a long time. But, time passes pretty quickly and can get away from you. Things that make the two years pass quickly are the stress of the whole ordeal, going to the doctor, losing time from work, and struggling with your pain. If you miss the deadline, there's no going back.
Is The San José Car Accident Statute Of Limitations Always Two Years?
No. There are some pretty important exceptions to the California two year personal injury lawsuit statute of limitations. One of the exceptions deals with public entities and public employees.
For example, a public entity is the City of San Jose. But, a public employee is an employee of the City of San Jose who was making deliveries for his employer when the accident happened.
But what if they were driving their own car? You might not know that they were a public employee acting for a public entity when the accident happened.
When it comes to public entities and public employees, that general two year period no longer applies. Instead you must file a written Notice of Claim within 6 short months of the accident!
You can see that different statutes of limitations are another reason why you must contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible right after your accident. Delaying may damage or lose your case.
When Does My Statute of Limitations Actually Start?
Some people who represent themselves in accident cases think that the time they take negotiating with an insurance adjuster about their personal injury claim pretty much "stops the clock" on the statute of limitations. This is a mistake that may cost you your claim.
The truth is, you must file a lawsuit, with the correct court, before the time limit (statute of limitations) expires. The claims adjuster knows the deadline for your case and is waiting for you to miss it.
Generally, the statute of limitations for a pedestrian in San Jose to sue for a car driver for an injury accident that happened in San Jose begins on the date of the accident, and ends two years after the accident. This is true even if this accident happened anywhere else in California.
Example: I got hit on February 3, 2019. When does my statute of limitations expire? Most people would think it expires on February 3, 2021. But they are wrong. The statute of limitations for a February 3, 2019 pedestrian accident expires on February 2, 2021. Why? Because a year is 365 days. See how statutes of limitations can be confusing?
What If I Miss My Car Accident Statute of Limitations In California?
Most injured people want to believe that the insurance adjuster is acting in good faith when they talk to them about reaching a settlement.
Good faith means honesty of purpose without any intention to mislead or to take unfair advantage of the other person.
But, guess what? If you miss the statute of limitations, the insurance adjuster will breathe a sign of relief. Why? Because you just automatically lost your case.
This means that the insurance no longer has to pay you! They can even stop returning your calls.
If you miss your deadline, the insurance company does not have to pay anything at all.
How Does An Attorney Take Care of the Statute of Limitations?
If you hire the right personal injury attorney, right from the start, you won't have to worry about the statute of limitations anymore. Instead, your focus will be on recovering from your injuries.
I am Renée Yvonne Gardner, an accident attorney who knows what to do about each step of the insurance claims process, including negotiations. If the circumstances of your claim require that a lawsuit get filed, I will do that for you. If your claim is still pending when the statute of limitations date is near, I will file a lawsuit to protect you from automatically losing your case.
I speak Spanish - hablo español.
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