Motor vehicle accidents that take place in California are subject to a variety of rules and deadlines. For example, the drivers must inform their insurance companies of the accident. Specific legal requirements must be met to support an accident victim’s claim for damages.
Some of the most important requirements in a California car accident claim are the deadlines by which the crash must be reported.
Reporting to Law Enforcement
If an accident caused injuries or death, California Vehicle Code section 20008 states that a driver (or that driver’s representative) must provide a written report of an accident to either the California Highway Patrol or the police department in the town or city where the crash occurred. This must be done within 24 hours of the accident.
However, if a police officer came to the accident site, it is not necessary to provide such a report. This is because law enforcement officers prepare their own reports when they investigate accidents and submit them to their respective agencies.
Reporting to the Department of Motor Vehicles
In addition, it may be necessary to report the accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Those involved in an accident have 10 days to report it to the DMV if any of the following circumstances apply:
- Property damage exceeds $750;
- An individual was killed in the crash; or
- An individual was injured in the crash.
Note that individuals involved in an accident are required to report it to the DMV even if a law enforcement officer came to the scene of the crash. Failure to report an accident to the DMV may result in a suspension of one’s driver’s license.
Reporting to Your Car Insurance Company
Each car insurance company has its own requirements regarding reporting an accident. Most car insurance companies require accidents to be reported pretty quickly so that they may begin working on the claim. You will need to consult your own policy to learn about your car insurance company’s requirements.
Deadlines to File a Lawsuit
In many cases, it is necessary to file a lawsuit after a motor vehicle accident. Generally, this is because the at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses to make a reasonable offer to settle the claim. The insurance company may offer thousands less than what the accident victim is entitled to.
If even after being presented with proof of damages, the insurance company refuses to pay the claim, your California car accident attorney will draft and file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
However, there are deadlines that impact these lawsuits as well. These deadlines are called the statute of limitations. In California, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years. In car accident cases, this deadline begins on the date of the crash.
If a claimant misses the statute of limitations and attempts to file a lawsuit after it has passed, the case will likely be dismissed. The claimant will be responsible for any and all expenses related to the accident, even if the claimant was not at fault for the crash.
Personal Injury Attorneys Help You Fight Your Case
The numerous deadlines involved in a California car accident case can be confusing for those involved in accidents, and stressful for those who need to focus on recovering from their injuries. Experienced California personal injury attorneys are well versed in all the deadlines and rules that impact a car accident claim and ensure that all legal requirements are fulfilled.
With the assistance of an experienced attorney, accident victims are able to focus on moving forward with their lives instead of meeting filing deadlines and submitting evidence.
However, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after being involved in an accident. Gathering medical records and other types of evidence often take much longer than anticipated. Therefore, it is essential to allow plenty of time to ensure all deadlines are met.
Call Kuvara Law Firm Today to Discuss Your Accident Claim
At Kuvara Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys are experienced in all types of accident claims. If you would like to schedule a free consultation to learn about the services we offer, as well as your legal options, contact us today.