How long does one have to initiate an auto accident lawsuit?
The injuries suffered as a result of an auto accident are not always immediately apparent. Due to the size and power of vehicles on the roads car accidents sometimes cause devastating injuries. However, too often the aches and pains that follow an auto accident are ignored because the seriousness of an injury might not reveal itself to you until long after the auto accident.
It’s always a good idea to quickly contact an attorney if you believe you suffered a compensable injury, and you have a personal injury claim. When you retain a personal injury lawyer, this allows an attorney to communicate with an at-fault insurance company on your behalf. When an attorney is a primary contact with an insurance company, a claim gets properly managed. Frequently, insurance companies attempt to settle personal injury claims quickly, so the insurance company can settle claims for less than an injured victim deserves and close corporate exposure to a claim that an insurance company must pay. Attorney involvement prevents an insurance company from taking steps that are adverse to your interest.
However, just because an injured victim does not immediately contact an attorney and file a personal injury lawsuit, does not mean that an injured victim is without recourse. Each state has a personal injury statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a statutorily established amount of time permissible before the opportunity to bring a lawsuit against a responsible tortfeasor expires. There are applicable statute of limitations for a variety of legal areas and practice. In California, the statute of limitations for bringing an auto accident lawsuit is two years. The two-year time constraint means that after the two-year statute of limitations expires, an injured victim gets barred from bringing an action against a driver who is responsible for the injured victim’s injuries or that responsible person’s insurance company. It also means that you get barred from suing your insurance company should you need to rely on your insurance policy for underinsurance and uninsured motorist coverage. The two-year time limit begins to run at the time of the injury, which is typically the date of the auto accident.
The value of your car accident claim depends on your particular circumstances. The personal injury laws in California allow an injured victim to recover for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, loss of enjoyment, and an injured victim’s spouse can even file a lawsuit for loss of consortium. While some losses such as those related medical expenses and lost wages are reasonably straightforward to calculate, other losses such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and a spousal consortium claim do not get easily calculated. Should a responsible insurance company or self-insured entity disagree with the value that an injured victim places on those intangible injuries, then the need for a jury trial might arise. If there is a need for a trial, you most certainly require the assistance of an attorney. Not only is a licensed attorney the only person permitted to represent you in an auto accident case, but a licensed attorney is also familiar with the substantive, procedural, and evidentiary laws that govern your claim.
Attorneys can also help establish your need for future medical and living expenses. Insurance companies tend to rely on impersonal software or interested experts when computing future medical and living expenses. When you hire a personal injury attorney to advocate on your behalf, then you have the opportunity to hire a non-professional expert to put a value on your future medical and living needs.
When you get injured in an auto accident, it’s important to remember that time is not always on your side. While two years might seem like a lot of time to consider a personal injury action, the truth is that the best claim is one where evidence is intact, witness’s memories are fresh, and a personal injury attorney is involved early.
If you or someone you know was injured in an auto accident, please contact our law firm to protect your interests, and let us take on the insurance company for you.