What Happens if You Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit?

What Happens if You Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit?

What Happens if You Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit?

Have you recently been in a car accident and are confused about the legal processes involved? You may be wondering what happens if you lose a car accident lawsuit and if it’s a good idea to file one in the first place. Here, we outline everything you need to know about car accident lawsuits in California so you can be well-informed before making a decision.

Following a car accident, it is common practice to file a claim against the other motorist as well as the insurance provider. A car accident lawyer can assist you in filing your claim and fighting for your best interests to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. The right legal team can assist you in taking on powerful insurance companies and ensuring that your payout is adequate for your injuries and the type of accident you were involved in.

First steps

It can be overwhelming to experience a car accident and you are likely to be confused about what you need to do. The following is a list of things you should do as soon as you have been in an accident:

  •     Don’t flee the scene of the accident. Even if the accident is minor, abandoning the accident site could be viewed as a case of hit and run. 
  •     Get out of the traffic and check for injuries on everyone involved in the accident (and provide first to victims if you are trained for it) 
  •     For assistance and medical help, contact the California Highway Patrol or the local law enforcement. Make sure you obtain a copy of the police report for the accident. 
  •     Collect the names, addresses, and insurance details of anyone who was driving any of the vehicles involved in the accident. 
  •     Click photos of the scene and ask any witnesses for their contact details. 
  •     Notify your insurance agent that you may be involved in a car accident. 
  •     Make an appointment to see a doctor.

Before you file a personal injury lawsuit, you can and should do all of these things. It’s also a good idea to talk to a personal injury lawyer immediately so you can avoid any complications that may arise later.

In addition to avoiding complications, hiring a lawyer can help you deal with the other driver’s insurance provider and get the settlement you deserve. The lawyer will also ensure that in case you need to file a lawsuit, you do it within California’s statute of limitations on car accident lawsuits. 

Statute of limitations on car accidents in California

When you’ve been involved in a car accident in California, you always have the right to sue the negligent driver for damages (both financial and non-financial damages). California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340 specifies the deadline for filing a lawsuit seeking financial compensation. The statute of limitations for car accidents in California is 2 years from the date of the incident. Minors have their time limit extended till they reach adulthood, which is 18 years old. 

Injured adults are no longer able to file lawsuits after the two-year deadline has passed. This time limit has some exceptions, such as for people who lack mental capacity.

The preservation of corroborating evidence is the logic behind legal time limits. The final judgment of fault in vehicle accidents is based on the accuracy of witnesses’ memories and forensic evidence. So, it is critical that memories and evidence don’t fade. The California Code of Civil Procedure establishes different statutes of limitations for different kinds of legal claims, like a breach of contract, medical malpractice, and fraud. 

Personal injury cases against government entities, including cities, counties, government agencies, law enforcement agencies, schools, public transport, and certain healthcare facilities, must be filed within six months of the date of the injury. The California Government Code establishes these time limits.

There might be certain exceptions to these timelines. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine the timeframe that is applicable to your case. If you have been in an accident a while ago, the lawyer can help you determine whether you can still file a lawsuit now or whether you have passed the deadline.

What happens if you file a lawsuit after the deadline?

If you try to file your car accident case after the window has closed, the Court may dismiss your case entirely. You will forfeit your chance of receiving compensation for personal injuries or property damage unless your claim falls inside the few specific exceptions that could allow the case to proceed. 

Even when you’re convinced that your claim will be resolved through the insurance claim process, you should give yourself ample time to file a vehicle accident lawsuit in case you have to. At the very least, keeping the option of going to court and filing a lawsuit will offer you more bargaining power during negotiations with the insurance companies.

When is the right time to file a lawsuit?

Many people believe that a legal case should be filed as soon as possible post a car accident. However, it is usually preferable to file a claim with the negligent driver’s or responsible entity’s insurance provider. This gives the injured victim enough time to receive all necessary medical care and physical therapy. It could be viable to reach a settlement agreement with the insurance agent for a justified amount of compensation after the true extent of injuries and losses has been ascertained. This avoids the steep cost of litigation as well as the inherent delays that come with dealing with overburdened courts. 

A just settlement is always preferable to waiting for a Judge or Jury to determine the value of your injuries or damages. It could take one year or longer after the accident for a court to determine whether you’re eligible for compensation or not. 

It is critical to seek advice from an expert California personal injury lawyer who knows the statute of limitations. They can make the right decisions regarding your situation to progress with your claim in a reasonable timeframe. They can also ensure that the amount of compensation you will get for your injuries and other losses is the maximum.

Is there a limit on the damages you can claim?

California, unlike some other states, doesn’t have an overall limit on losses in personal injury or auto accident cases. Nevertheless, there are some pitfalls that may limit or nullify your car accident settlement. 

Aside from the time limits, California car accidents that include a driver who has no insurance or evidence of financial liability have a special monetary limit. California voters passed Proposition 213, which states that if a motorist doesn’t have any insurance, they are not eligible to recover non-financial losses. For example, they cannot claim damages for pain and suffering, or mental trauma, irrespective of who is at fault in the accident. Financial damages, like lost income or car damage, are still recoverable, but only if fault can be demonstrated.

For more information on the car accident laws in California, visit here.

car accident settlement at a loss

What is your lawyer’s role in the case of a car accident?

The job of a lawyer in a California car accident scenario is to represent the accident victim. This includes dealing with the legal system and the insurance company, and bringing the client up to date on the progress of their case. 

After a car accident, some people believe they don’t need legal counsel. However, before you accept the insurance company’s offer or pass up your rights in a settlement, take the time to understand what’s at stake. The insurance provider is a business, and it is possible that they are not looking out for your best interests.

For a free consultation on your case, hire an experienced California personal injury lawyer. A free consultation allows you to get a clearer idea of the value of your claim without incurring any costs. A lawyer will defend your best interests in your personal injury case in the following ways.

Investigating your case

If law enforcement responded to the car accident at the scene, the officials may have investigated the matter. If law enforcement does not arrive at the scene of the accident, however, the insurance providers involved may speak with their customers to learn their side of the story. 

Sadly, these limited investigations do not provide a complete picture of what occurred during the crash. They could also include the other driver’s mistakes and misleading claims. 

Your lawyer will provide a better and clear understanding of what happened during the accident after a more in-depth investigation. This includes determining who’s at fault and how the other party should be held liable for their actions.

Helping with your medical care

Car accident injuries can be complex, severe, and progressive. Even if the driver appears to be fine following the accident, pain in the neck, nerve damage, headaches, and other symptoms can appear weeks or even months later.  Your lawyer will make certain that you receive treatment right away so that your injuries do not worsen. 

Other accident victims may be hesitant to seek medical attention due to concerns regarding the cost of medical care. If some other driver caused the collision, that person should be held liable for your losses. After an accident, your attorney will advise you to seek medical attention and fight to have your medical bills paid by the other driver’s insurance company.

Collecting evidence

Clicking pictures of the damaged car and obtaining a copy of medical files aren’t the only ways to gather evidence in a car accident case. The other motorist may try to conceal evidence of the accident’s cause. A lawyer can take steps to ensure that the evidence is preserved and not meddled with. To help you build your case, engineering or medical experts can verify this evidence.

Issuing a demand letter

Among the first steps in recovering damages after a car accident in California is to send a demand letter. The claim is outlined in the demand letter, as well as the grounds for the other side’s liability. In most cases, the demand letter also marks the start of settlement negotiations with the insurance agent.

Negotiating with insurance providers

Dealing with the insurance provider is the most important aspect of attempting to recover damages after a car accident. If the injured person does not have legal counsel, it could also be the most dangerous aspect of the claim. 

Every day, the insurance company’s lawyers and adjusters work with liability and injury claims. If you speak with the other driver’s insurance provider on your own, they may try to persuade you to say specific things that help their case. As a result, they may reject your compensation claim or offer you less or no money at all. Allow your lawyer to negotiate with the insurance provider in order to maximize your chances of receiving full compensation.

It is usually up to the accident victim to make a decision whether or not to accept the settlement offer from the insurance provider. Your lawyer will inform you of your choices. They can then take the case to trial if the insurance provider refuses to cooperate or offers only a small fraction of your losses. 

Filing a lawsuit

In case negotiations with the insurance provider fail, your lawyer has the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court in California. This will include a claim for damages as well as a premise for liability. It can take a long time for a car accident lawsuit to reach trial. The majority of personal injury lawsuits, on the other hand, are settled before going to trial. As the case approaches a court hearing, both parties are more inclined to accept a settlement offer.

What next?

Now that you know all the basic legal processes involved in a car accident in California, you will be prepared in case you meet with an accident. If you have already been in an accident, you now know whether your case falls within the State’s stipulated timeframes or not and how an attorney can help your case.

Contact us now to get seasoned and honest advice on your car accident case and get the maximum compensation possible from the insurance provider!

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