How Long after an Accident Can You File a Claim in California?
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California Time Limits for Filing Auto Accidents Claims

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Accidents are sometimes unavoidable, even with the best driving record, practice, and skills. Other drivers may become reckless, or situations could occur, such as objects moving around the road or traffic lights and equipment working improperly. When these situations happen, you could be involved in an accident and need to file a claim. Below are details about the time frame in which insurance claims must be filed in California following an auto accident as well as other important information, brought to you by the experienced team from Altra Insurance Services, the professionals who provide high-quality auto insurance Chula Vista drivers and residents throughout San Diego County rely on.

Reporting the Accident

You’re required to report the incident within 24 hours to your insurance company. However, you should call the police immediately. This allows a third party to come on the scene, document both parties’ statements, and create a report that can be accessed by insurance agencies, courts, and others in the future.

Failing to report an auto accident to the police could lead to severe consequences, such as criminal charges. The most common would be known as a hit-and-run. You could face monetary fines, lose your driving privileges and insurance, and even be sentenced to jail time if found guilty.

Not at Fault

According to California laws, even if you’re not responsible for the accident, you must report it to your insurance company within 24 hours. Although the other party may need to pay for damages, health expenses, and other financial setbacks caused by the accident, your insurance company must legally know what happened. However, once the claim has been filed and you’re found not at fault, the other party’s insurance provider should contact your provider to take the next necessary steps.

Personal Injuries

In some cases, injuries aren’t discovered right away. Due to this factor, California generally allows individuals to file claims for personal injuries up to two years after accidents. If the injury was discovered and documented, you typically have a year from the date of discovery to file a claim. Therefore, it’s best to have thorough health evaluations and follow up regularly with your primary care physician after an accident.

Keep in mind some circumstances allow people to file after this date, but this varies from situation to situation. In these incidents, some individuals can take advantage of what’s referred to as the discovery rule and attempt to file a claim even up to four years later. However, courts are likely to dismiss claims unless you have a strong argument and make the proper filings, which is why legal representation may be necessary.

Act Immediately

Even if you’re not going to file a claim quickly, it would be best to call your insurance company soon after the situation occurs—on the day of the accident, if possible. Also get the information from the other parties involved in the incident so you can have those details ready when filing a claim.

Contact your insurance company from the accident scene if you need help filing the claim. A representative is typically available to answer your call or offer other options to consider if your situation occurs after typical work hours. These professionals can guide you through the insurance claim policy and ensure you promptly take the right actions.

If you’re in any kind of vehicle accident, the most important thing is to make sure everyone is safe and gets medical attention right away if it’s needed. Then follow the other steps listed above to make sure legal requirements are met and your interests are protected. If you need affordable, reliable auto insurance, reach out to the experienced agents at Altra Insurance Services. We also offer several other types of insurance, including homeowners, renters, and motorcycle insurance. Give us a call today to learn how you can get the dependable coverage you need.

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