How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim in California?

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As an auto accident victim in Riverside County, you have two years from the date of the accident in which to file a claim for damages against a negligent driver. Talk to a trusted car accident lawyer today to discuss your case.

Car accidents are an unfortunate reality. Even careful and attentive drivers can find themselves suffering an injury at the hands of a distracted driver. Seemingly minor injuries can lead to lengthy and costly physical recoveries, negatively impacting your life in several ways. Suddenly, you may worry about how you will be able to afford the mounting medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses stemming from the accident. Fortunately, California allows auto accident victims to pursue compensation to assist with these costs, but the process can be confusing to navigate. While working with an attorney to file an auto accident claim is not required, doing so can provide you with the clarity and support you need during this challenging time. However, you will need to pursue your claim within a specific time frame, or you risk forfeiting your right to collect compensation. Let’s take a look at the typical auto accident settlement timeline so you can maximize your chances of securing a fair and favorable settlement.

How to File an Auto Accident Claim in Riverside County

The aftermath of a car accident can be chaotic and disorienting. Once you’ve received medical attention and you feel well enough to explore your options for pursuing compensation, you should enlist the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will assess the specific details of your case and identify the most strategic course of action. In California, you will likely need to locate and submit the following documents and information when filing your claim with the insurance company.

Medical Documents

When you are seeking compensation to support your physical recovery, you will have to demonstrate the nature and extent of your injuries. Even if you do not think your injuries are severe enough to warrant medical attention, you should still visit a medical professional for an evaluation. Documenting the nature of your injuries is critical to quantifying the impact the accident has had on your health and quality of life. Be sure to compile any medical records (i.e., hospital bills, physical therapy expenses, medication receipts, etc.), so you can submit them with your claim.

Police Report

Auto accidents that involve property damage or bodily injuries should be reported to local law enforcement. The responding officer will compile a police report detailing the circumstances of the accident. This document often serves as an objective account of the incident, and you can request a copy to submit with your injury claim. For instance, if the police report states that the other driver was texting or intoxicated behind the wheel, this information can strengthen your claim.

Beware of the Insurance Adjuster’s Tactics

The auto accident claims process can be tricky to navigate on your own, especially negotiating with the insurance adjuster assigned to oversee your claim. Although the adjustor may say they are “on your side,” it’s essential to recognize that their loyalty lies with the insurance company. They often use tactics to get you to admit fault or otherwise undermine your claim and pay you as little as possible. Before you start these negotiations, consider hiring an attorney to handle these difficult communications on your behalf.

Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in California

As an auto accident victim in Riverside County, you have two years from the date of the accident in which to file a claim for damages against a negligent driver. If you have not taken action by the time the statute of limitations has expired, you forfeit your right to seek compensation. Although two years sounds like an ample amount of time, it passes quickly for victims who are facing busy and lengthy paths to recovery. However, there are some circumstances that affect the statute of limitations. For instance, if the injured person is a minor, the two year period does not begin until the child turns 18. Or, if the defendant is unavailable for some reason (they are incarcerated or out of state), the statute of limitations may be extended. Contact a trusted Temecula auto accident attorney today to discuss the specifics of your claim.

Trusted Legal Guidance When You Need it Most

It’s no secret that suffering an auto accident injury can be devastating. As you cope with your physical recovery, you must also face financial and emotional concerns. However, you are never alone in this process. Reach out to a skilled and caring personal injury lawyer to receive customized and reliable legal guidance during this challenging time. Together, you can identify the brightest path forward to ensure you maximize your settlement offer, allowing you to get your life back on track.


If you need help collecting compensation following an auto accident injury in Temecula or Murrieta, call Hales & Associates, A Professional Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320.

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