How do I File a Car Insurance Injury Claim in California?

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you should notify your own insurer first, regardless of who was at fault. Those who were uninsured can file a claim with the other party’s insurer if they believe the other party was solely or partially at fault.
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How do I File a Car Insurance Injury Claim in California?

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To file a car insurance claim in California, you must promptly notify your insurer. Notification of a claim can be made by calling the telephone number listed on your insurance card. A claim can also be initiated online using the insurer’s website or mobile app.


If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you should notify your own insurer first, regardless of who was at fault. Those who were uninsured can file a claim with the other party’s insurer if they believe the other party was solely or partially at fault.


Who should I call after a car accident in California?

In the event of a motor vehicle accident in California, it is important to take the following steps:

  • Contact emergency medical personnel if anyone is injured.
  • Call the police if the accident is more than a minor fender bender.
  • Notify your own auto insurance company, or the other party's insurer if you are not at fault and do not have insurance.


By taking these steps, you can ensure that everyone involved receives the help they need and that any claims are properly processed.


What if the accident was my fault?

If you've been in a car accident in California, you'll need to notify your own insurance company regardless of who was at fault. That's because some types of insurance policies — such as Med Pay insurance and California collision insurance — payout without regard to fault.


Additionally, it's possible that the other party was wholly or partially responsible for the accident. California's "comparative negligence / shared fault" law allows people to recover damages even when they were partly to blame for an accident.


So, if you're ever involved in a car accident, be sure to contact your own insurance company right away. They can help you determine what kind of coverage you have and how to proceed with making a claim.


Do I need to notify the California DMV after a car accident?

If you are involved in an accident in California, it is important to take immediate steps to protect your legal rights. This includes notifying the DMV within 10 days of the accident, if anyone was killed or injured, or if the accident caused more than $1,000 in property damage.


Reporting the accident to the DMV or your insurer is not the same as suing for damages. If the responsible insurance company or party does not pay up, you may eventually need to file a lawsuit to protect your right to recover damages.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options after an accident.


How long do I have to recover damages from car accident injuries?

According to California law, you generally have two years from the date of your car accident to file a lawsuit against the other party or his/her insurer. However, it's important to note that this is the statute of limitations for lawsuits, not for reporting the accident to the California DMV or your insurer.


Most insurance companies require that you notify them of an accident as soon as possible if you plan to file a claim. Delaying too long could jeopardize your chances of recovering damages. The typical auto accident settlement timeline is one to three years from the time of the accident.


What if I don’t have insurance?

If you were involved in an accident and don’t have insurance, you may be able to file a claim with the other party’s insurer. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the other party’s insurance company does not represent you. They may simply ignore your claim.

For this reason, we recommend contacting an experienced California accident lawyer before making a direct claim against another party’s insurance.


Can I take my car anywhere for repairs after an accident in California?

If you've been in a car accident, you may be wondering whether you should have your repairs done by a body shop of your choice. Most insurers have a network of repair shops that will bill the insurer directly (at discounted rates). However, there are some advantages to using an in-network repair shop.


For one, it can be easier to get additional costs approved if the shop discovers more damage after the initial estimate. In addition, negotiating the price of repairs with the adjuster (and probably the body shop as well) can take up valuable time that you could be spending on other things.


Overall, using an in-network repair shop is usually the best option for getting your car back on the road quickly and with as little hassle as possible.


Can I get my car repaired even if I am still injured?

Be sure to read any documents you are asked to sign carefully, however, to avoid comprising your rights. If an insurance company offers to settle for damages to your vehicle only, it is likely because they believe that your injuries are not serious enough to warrant a larger payout. You may be tempted to accept this offer, but it is important to speak with an attorney first.


An experienced lawyer can help you determine whether the offer is fair and represent you in negotiations with the insurance company. Do not hesitate to contact an attorney if you have been injured in a car accident. The sooner you get legal help, the better your chances of getting the full compensation you deserve.


Do I need an attorney to make a car accident claim in California?

No. But unless your claim is small and straightforward you will often get a larger settlement if you have a lawyer make your claim.


Insurance adjusters are trained to make you go away or take less than you deserve. They deal with claims all day every day.


An experienced California personal injury attorney will know how to see through their tricks to get you all the compensatory damages to which you are entitled.


In addition, if your injuries were caused by someone's negligence, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.


If you try to deal with the insurance company on your own, you will be at a serious disadvantage. The insurance adjuster will take advantage of you and try to get you to settle for much less than you deserve. Don't let that happen. Hire an experienced California personal injury attorney to level the playing field.


The process for settling a California vehicle accident claim

Getting assigned to an adjuster

The insurance adjuster will ask you for a statement and will gather other evidence to determine who was at fault and what each party’s damages are. To obtain a fair settlement, you must understand the role of the insurance adjuster and know how to deal with them.


An insurance adjuster is a professional who works for the insurance company to investigate and evaluate claims. The adjuster’s job is to protect the interests of the insurance company, not necessarily to look out for your best interests.


It is important to remember that anything you say to an insurance adjuster can be used against you later. Adjusters are trained to get information from claimants that can be used to deny or reduce the value of their claims.


For these reasons, it is best to avoid speaking with an insurance adjuster if possible. If you must speak with an adjuster, be sure to get the name and contact information of the adjuster you speak with. It is also a good idea to have a copy of your police report handy so that you can refer to it when speaking with the adjuster.


If you have been injured in a car accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you deal with the insurance company and get the compensation you deserve.


Do I have to give the adjuster a recorded statement?

It's important to be careful about what you say to an insurance adjuster after an accident. You are not obligated to give a statement, and anything you say can be used to deny or delay your claim. Simply present the facts of the accident, without embellishment. If asked how you are doing, you can honestly say that it's too early to be certain.


Do I have to agree to an independent medical examination

In general, it is best to say as little as possible about your medical condition to the insurance adjuster and let the evidence (and your attorney if you have one) do the work. If the adjuster asks you to undergo an independent medical examination (IME), politely tell the adjuster that you will sign a medical release so that he or she can obtain treatment notes from your medical providers.


The IME is not as independent as the insurer would have you believe - it is an exam paid for by the insurance company that cannot help your claim.


What evidence will the adjuster need to obtain?

The insurer will collect a range of evidence to assess your claim, including but not limited to:

  • Your claim form
  • Your recorded statement (if you give one)
  • The statement(s) of the other party and any witnesses
  • An inspection of your vehicle
  • Photos of the accident scene
  • Damage reports from car repair shops
  • Medical bills
  • Medical reports


Anything else that is relevant may also be considered, such as social media posts. It is therefore important to be mindful of what you share online after an accident.


How long will it take to get my money after a car insurance claim?

Notification of a claim to an insurance company does not need to be in writing, but by law, the insurer must open a good faith investigation within 15 days. The insurer must accept or deny the claim not later than 40 days after it has been proved. The proof involves establishing that you are entitled to recovery and how much you are entitled to.


If the claim is simple and the fault is not at issue, a claim can be proved in a matter of days. When the fault is an issue, it can take longer, especially if anyone was seriously injured. In the most serious cases, proving your case may take many months or even years. If you have been involved in an accident, it is important to understand the claims process and what to expect from your insurance company.


The initial settlement offer

After the adjuster investigates your claim, he or she will usually make a settlement offer. In most cases, the offer will be for the amount needed to pay for your car repairs and necessary medical treatment. However, the offer might be less than you expect because the adjuster wants to limit the insurance company’s exposure.


Treatment is ongoing and there are no guarantees that you will fully recover. If you accept the offer, you release the insurance company from any further responsibility. Before accepting any offer, it is important to consult with an attorney to learn about all your options and potential outcomes.


Should I send a demand letter?

After a car accident, you may be wondering whether it is necessary to send a demand letter to the insurance company. While it is not required, doing so can be beneficial.


A demand letter sets forth your version of events and includes a request (“demand”) for a certain amount. It can also provide a brief statement of the evidence you have to support your claim.


If you have hired a California personal injury lawyer, they will usually opt to send the insurance company a demand letter before (or even after) the adjuster makes an offer.


Keep in mind that just as an adjuster’s initial offer is usually on the low side, the demand letter often asks for an amount higher than what you would ultimately accept. This is because the negotiation process typically starts with each side asking for more than they expect to get.


Ultimately, whether to send a demand letter is a decision that should be made in consultation with your injury lawyer. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case.


The negotiation

If you find yourself in a car accident, the most critical part of the process will be the negotiation with your insurance company. This is where you or your lawyer will present evidence and argue for a higher settlement amount. The insurance adjuster will likely want to bring the case to a quick resolution to clear their plate, but it's important to be patient and persistent to get the best possible results. In rare cases, you may need to file a lawsuit to receive a fair settlement offer. Be sure to keep track of the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in your state so that you don't miss your chance.


The settlement agreement

If you have any questions about the agreement, ask the insurance adjuster before you sign it. Once you sign, you are agreeing to accept the insurance company's offer of compensation and give up your right to sue – even if you later discover that you were injured more seriously than you initially thought, or your car needed additional repairs.


It is important to understand what you are signing, so take the time to read the agreement carefully and make sure all the details are correct. If anything is not clear, ask the insurance adjuster for clarification before you sign. By signing the settlement agreement, you are giving up your right to take any further legal action related to this accident. Once you sign, the insurance company will send you a check for the agreed-upon amount.


How do I get my money after I settle my California car accident claim?

If you have an insurance policy, you may be wondering how you will receive your settlement after an accident. In most cases, the insurer will pay the repair shop directly if you use a shop within their network. For all other damages, the insurer will pay you once they receive a signed settlement agreement from you.


However, it is important to note that you may be responsible for paying other parties out of the proceeds. For example, you may need to pay doctors or body shops that were not paid directly by your insurer. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you do not have any outstanding bills for services before spending your settlement money.
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