How Long do I have to File a Claim After a Car Accident?

How Long do I have to File a Claim After a Car Accident?

We are commonly asked how long a client generally has to file a claim with the other parties insurance after a car accident. Many clients tell me they have heard that they have 15 days or 21 days after an accident. In other cases I have heard insurance companies flat out lie and say that this is the “law”. California law with regards to this is simple, you have 2 years to file a lawsuit for your injuries following a auto accident. This is 2 years from the date of the accident. However, keep in mind you that a claim for injuries should be filed with the other parties insurance as soon as possible after the accident.

Why does it matter if I wait to seek treatment for my injuries?

Waiting can hurt your case, but it will not completely prevent you from pursuing a claim for damages. Insurance companies and defense will ask, why you did not seek treatment for your injuries if you were injured? This may seem like a logical question, which will require a proper explanation. In most of the cases I take the injuries are often times delayed. After a car accident your body will release adrenaline. This adrenaline will often times block or numb pain receptors. When pain receptors are numbed out you will not feel or sense pain. After a certain period of time the adrenaline will dissolve and the pain from the accident will set in. This can be different and is evaluated in a case by case basis.

In other cases injured victims do not have the time or the means to seek medical treatment. If you are suffering from a serious injury and do not have the medical means to seek treatment it likely that you will fore go medical aid. Considering the expense of medical assistance each case can be different. In other cases, injured parties do not have the time to seek medical treatment. Many work full time so they are not able to take time off of work. In certain cases clients have failed to seek proper medical care for fear of losing gainful employment.

In other situations clients fail to seek medical treatment because they do not want to jeopardize employment opportunities. This applies to those in labor intensive fields who don’t want an employer to terminate their employment due to an injury, which is illegal, but that’s a separate issue.
As you can see a number of issues exist which can delay whether or not you seek medical care for your injuries. While it is an important element of your claim, do not let insurance companies lead you to believe that is a deciding factor.

Car accident – 3C’s – Causes, Compensation & Claims

What if the insurance company denied my claim?

It is likely that the insurance company will deny your case if you they do not see proper medical treatment. However, just because they deny your case, it does not mean you are not able to pursue a claim for damages. It is up to the courts to decide what your prayer for damages should be, not the insurance company. Many lawyers will settle your case with the insurance company to avoid having to file a lawsuit.

Cases that are settled pre-litigation will often settle for substantially less than face value. That is why the insurance companies decision to deny your case should not be a real issue. In fact it should not be an issue at all. After you file your case the insurance companies defense attorney will contact you. At that point your attorney will need to establish liability and set forth a course to explain why there was gap in treatment. Generally this can be explained by stating specific facts illustrating why the gap in treatment existed. In other cases the gap in treatment could be the result of delayed injuries. In either case your car accident attorney should be able to properly explain this issue.


 

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Useful Resources for car accident victims:

FAQ – Commonly Asked Questions
What Should I Do After A Car Accident?
Auto Accident Statistics
PDF – Legal Guide
Common Injuries
Auto Accident Fatalities and California Wrongful Death Lawsuits