The statute of limitations, which is the timeframe it takes to settle your personal injury matter, is two years in California. How long it takes the insurance company to resolve the dispute depends on the severity of your injuries and whether your case will be filed pre-litigation, without filing a lawsuit, or in litigation, with filing a lawsuit. A standard accident that does not require surgery typically requires physical therapy or chiropractic treatment over the course of 3-6 months. After you complete your medical treatment, then your lawyer can submit a pre-litigation demand and your personal injury case can be resolved within 6-12 months of the actual accident date.
If your injuries are more severe and take longer to resolve and a lawsuit is filed, a good rule of thumb is that your claim will take anywhere from one to two years to resolve once the matter is in litigation.
Accidents could cause devastating injuries and substantial financial losses to victims. But you may be compensated for your damages either from your own insurance company or the at-fault driver or in some cases both your own insurance company and the at-fault driver.
There are also several factors that affect the time frame when the insurance company may settle your personal injury claim. These factors include, but are not limited to, how long it takes the insurance company to investigate and determine who is responsible or causing your injuries, low-balling and back and forth settlement negotiations with the insurance companies, insurance coverage disputes, and when you file a lawsuit in court and when your trial date is. Trial dates often drive settlement and the negotiation process since the matter must resolve or go to trial. After a lawsuit is filed, the evidence the parties exchange over the course of litigation, called discovery, and your medical treatment will determine when a settlement is reached.
The Insurance Claim Process
The first step towards resolving a settlement claim in California is determining fault for the accident. Once you have determined who is at fault, you need to report the accident to your insurance company as well as inform the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier that you intend to file a personal injury claim. If another driver is responsible for causing the accident, you need to take into account your medical expenses (both present and future), loss of wages, estimated loss of pay (due to an inability to work), non-economic damages (pain and suffering) as well as gather crucial evidence like the police report, photographs from the scene of accident such as damage to the vehicles, medical reports, etc. before filing a claim against the negligent driver.
Under California’s insurance code, all vehicles are required to be covered with a minimum amount of insurance:
- $15,000 for injury or death to one person
- $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person
- $5,000 for property damage
So your lawyer will be meeting with representatives from the insurance company, which may be insurance claims adjusters evaluating your claim and/or insurance defense lawyers who are defending the insurance company, to negotiate the value of your personal injury depending on the extent of your economic and non-economic damages. Initially, the insurance adjusters will try to undervalue your claim and that is why you want to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to negotiate on your behalf and maximize the case value.
Upon receiving the letter, the insurance company will investigate on their own before making a decision. If they accept your claim, you’ll receive a settlement offer while no settlement can be expected if they deny your claim.
Statute Of Limitations To File A Personal Injury Or Property Damage Claim In California
In California, the statute of limitations requires accident victims to file a lawsuit for personal injuries within two years of being involved in an accident. If the person couldn’t file a complaint within the two-year timeframe, the judge will dismiss the case because the statute of limitations has expired.
A person can file a case based on property damage within three years from the date of the accident.
When an accident case involves a local, county, or state government party, the victim has to file a lawsuit within six months from the date of the accident.
Once a lawsuit is filed, it must be served upon all defendants. The defendants usually respond within 30 days, following which the process of written discovery questions is initiated. Oral depositions when you are asked questions under oath about the nature and extent of your injuries and how the accident happened to occur in litigation.
However, on most occasions, attorneys on both sides try to resolve the case out of court through a process known as mediation or through discussions amongst the lawyers.
The Litigation Process
If your personal injury claim cannot be settled prior to filing a lawsuit, a lawsuit will then be filed.
Factors that could delay your claim process
Insurance companies would always try to undervalue your settlement claim. Despite the best efforts of your lawyer, there might be various factors that might delay the settlement process. So you need to understand a few fundamental issues which might be delaying your settlement:
- Frequent Negotiations
You and your lawyer would have to obviously negotiate your terms in order to get an appropriate value for your damages. However, insurance defense firms would be trying to reduce the compensation amount you are owed. So constant negotiations could be time-consuming.
- Disputes Over Who is responsible for causing the accident
The at-fault driver may and often does deny responsibility and blames the accident on you or someone else. So there are bound to be disagreements and disputes while determining the fault. And the insurance companies won’t arrive at a settlement until allit is determined who is at fault for the accident. This entire saga might prolong the procedure.
- Going to Trial
If you are not satisfied with the settlement deal the insurance company is offering, you might want to go to trial. That means you are now going to have the value of your case determined by a jury of your peers, which would result in further delays since the process of getting before a jury is time-consuming.
- Severity of your injuries
If you have suffered grievous injuries, you must be paying huge medical bills. Therefore, the claim amount also increases depending on the availability of insurance coverage. However, this might defer the settlement process because the critically injured will take time to heal and you need to reach some type of level of maximum medical improvement before the value of your case can be evaluated and then a potential settlement reached.
Claim a Free Consultation with Our SoCal Personal Injury Lawyer
At JCS Law Firm, we know that finding the right California personal injury lawyer for your lawsuit can be crucial to your success. Thankfully, we bring all the essentials to the table: experience, communication skills, a proven track record, and, most importantly, a commitment to our client’s well-being.
You can find out whether you have a valid case at no cost to you. That’s because we offer free consultations. To request a free consultation with our team, reach out by calling (833) JCS-FIRM (527-3476) or filling out the online contact form below.