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Statute of Limitations and Car Insurance

Statute of Limitations and Car Insurance

You have a certain amount of time when you get into an accident to file your claim and get it settled. Let's see how a statute of limitations can affect you and your car insurance claim.

Statute of Limitations Defined

A statute of limitations is the term used by the legal system to define the time limits for initiating claims or other legal actions.

These time limits will vary from state to state. For example, in California, you have the following amounts of time to file a lawsuit for cases regarding auto insurance:

  • 2 years for cases involving personal injury.
  • 3 years for property damage.

To find out what the limits are in your state, speak with your attorney.

Why Are Statutes of Limitations Enforced?

Statutes of limitations are imposed to ensure a fair case. Setting a reasonably short deadline for a lawsuit is smart, because over time:

  • Memories fade.
  • Witnesses move away, disappear, or die.
  • Evidence gets lost.

Statutes of Limitations and Accidents

Generally, an auto accident claim for minor personal injuries and damage to your car and other property is covered by the basic statutes, which in most states range from 2 to 6 years, with some exceptions.

However, if somebody dies in the accident, the claim is escalated to wrongful death, which has a much longer time limit in certain states.

Handling the Initial Claim

When you get into an accident, chances are you will be dealing mostly with the claims adjuster for the at-fault driver's car insurance company – at least initially. You also have to report the accident to your own insurance carrier. Your claims for compensation will likely be covered, at least to an extent, by the other driver's liability auto insurance policy.

If your policy includes coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists, you may make a claim with your own insurance company for the difference between your claim amount, up to the amount of coverage you purchased, and the limits of the other driver's coverage.

If that is still insufficient, you may wish to file a lawsuit against:

  • The other driver's carrier.
  • Your carrier.
  • The other driver.

Working with a Lawyer

If you are concerned about the statute of limitations, consider working with a lawyer. A lawyer can help you work with the insurance companies, file your personal injury claim with the court, and work through the details regarding the statute of limitations.

Claims Against the Government

Whether it's the federal, state, or local government who is at fault in your accident, bear in mind that statutes of limitations are different from those specified by state law. In most cases, the time limits are much shorter for government entities.

Depending on which government agency is involved, those limits can be as short as 60 days, so it pays to learn what their statute of limitations are as soon as possible.

When you're making a claim against any government agency, consider retaining an attorney from the very beginning.

*Any of the above content concerning legal issues is not to be construed as legal advice.

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