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What is The Time Limit on a General Insurance Car Accident in California?

As confirmed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,407 people in California lost their lives to road accidents in 2022. That’s a 2.8% increase over the previous year’s report of 4,285 deaths. To provide more context to the seriousness of that number, we must acknowledge that California recorded the second highest number of road accident fatalities (after Texas – 4,496) in the US last year. Note that these are only instances where the people were either killed outright or passed away soon after, as a result of their grievous injuries.

The ones who survived their serious injuries but continue to suffer from medical, psychological, and/or the financial consequences of these accidents are significantly larger. For example, according to the last official report released by the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), 269,031 people suffered injuries from road accidents in 2019. As should be evident from these facts, everyone living in California should at least have a rudimentary understanding of the various time limits that apply to the filing of insurance claims, personal injury lawsuits, and wrongful death lawsuits.


How to Know the Time Limit for Filing an Insurance Claim?

Ask any decent vehicle accident lawyer and they will tell you how common it is for them to find that their potential client is already past their time limit to file an insurance claim.  They will also tell you that this has really no bearing on the claim itself. The point to note here is that the deadline to file an insurance claim after being in an accident is not defined by the Statute of Limitations. Instead, the time limits applicable to first filing an insurance claim are defined by the terms of your insurer’s policy. Filing an insurance claim for a policy that you took and paid for is not the same as filing a compensation claim that you will be demanding with legal action against one or more parties at fault. Insurance contracts often have clauses that all accidents must be reported within 24 hours of the crash.  However, the failure to do so has essentially no consequences on you claim.

To know how long you have before it’s too late to report a General Insurance car accident, you will need to contact your insurance agent as soon as you can. Most insurance companies now allow their clients to file the claim online or via SMS. If you file for an insurance claim for personal injury, death, or property damage that equals to or exceeds $2,000, the state law in California makes it mandatory for motorists to make an official police report of the car accident within 10 days. The General insurer will check to see if the car accident was reported within 10 days of the incident.

Alough the failure to do so will not bar your claim, you should always try to report a car accident to law enforcement and file a claim with your insurer as quickly as possible. If you need assistance with filing your general insurance claim after the accident, turn on your phone’s location and search for ‘vehicle accident lawyer near me’ or ‘vehicle accident attorney near me.’ Motor vehicle accident lawyers specialize in helping their clients through the claims process and making sure The General insurance company is prompt in their processing of the claim.


What is the Statue of Limitations in California?

The Statute of Limitations is a deadline for starting legal action, as defined by the state. In California, the Statute of Limitation for filing legal action for personal injuries is two years from the date of the accident. You will have three years from the accident date to claim property damages in California. Note that the Statute of Limitation will only apply in instances where one party is looking to bring legal action against another. It will not come into play when you are simply filing an insurance claim.

Suing an insurer at fault is also an option and when that is necessary, the state’s Statute of Limitations will certainly be applicable. For example, an insurance provider may deny the claim on the grounds that it was filed too late, as per their policy requirements. Even if they are right, the claimant can seek legal action against the insurer through their personal injury attorney, citing exceptional circumstances.

The insurance company may also deny the claim citing insurance fraud. They may also deny claims citing that the compensation amount exceeds the amount covered by the claimant’s policy. Denials like that can be fought against in a court of law, provided that you have a top personal injury attorney.


What are Exceptional Circumstances?

When the circumstance of a case is determined to be such that the claimant could not have made the claim within the stipulated time limit in the insurance policy, it should be seen as an exceptional circumstance. For example, if the injury became prominent only after the time limit had passed, the claimant might be able to cite exceptional circumstances.

In case the victim was not in a physical state to make any police reports or file an insurance claim in time, a case can also be made for them. Loss of one’s faculty after a serious accident transfers the duty of reporting the situation to the family members and the medical personnel/establishment involved in the treatment. However, if the claimant was physically or cognitively unable to reach anybody and no medical treatment at any facility was provided to them, they may have a strong claim.


How to Assess Your Chances of Winning a Personal Injury Compensation Claim in California?

Only the best car accident injury attorneys are able to use exceptional circumstances in favor of the claimant in court even if the case seems shaky to a less experienced personal injury lawyer. This is owed to the fact that the Statute of Limitation is generally maintained by the court unless a compelling case can be made against it.

You will need to get your case assessed by an experienced road accident attorney first and you can get your case assessed for free. Here at Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys, we do not charge any fees for estimating the merits, chances, and compensation potential of a case in California. Get in touch today to learn more.