Car accident claim close to 2 year statute of limitations...
(San Francisco, CA)
I was in a car accident and the other party was found completely at fault. I only have one more month to sue, as my accident was 23 months ago. The adjuster stated verbally that the person at fault does not have enough coverage to cover the claim. He is also taking his time to reply to my demand letter even though I told him the 2 year deadline in California.
I filed an under-insured claim on my own insurance, but do I still need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver's insurance (to ensure my medical expenses, lost income, etc. are paid by the insurance)? Unfortunately the at fault party and me have the same insurance company. I'm wondering if this is the reason they're stalling, and if this presents a conflict of interest for them?
Thanks so much for any info.
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ANSWER for "Car accident claim close to 2 year statute of limitations...":
Sarah (San Francisco, CA):
Don't rely on your insurance company to help! The insurance company is not under a legal duty to settle your claim before the statute of limitations period has expired. In the State of California the statute of limitations is two (2) years. If you permit the statute of limitations to expire, you will lose your legal right to compensation for your injuries and property damage.
The looming expiration of the limitations period may very well be the reason the insurance company is dragging its feet. If you want to keep your claim alive, file a lawsuit immediately. You don't have to hire an attorney to do so.
If you are unable to find an attorney to represent you, by filing a small claims lawsuit you will at least "toll" the statute of limitations. Once a lawsuit is filed the limitations period does not apply. At that point, the matter is in the court system and only a judge can end the case, whether the matter takes 10 days or 10 years to finally resolve.
While on its face, it would appear the insurance company is involved in a conflict of interest, the courts do not recognize a conflict of interest when the same insurance company offers coverage to various individuals involved in the same incident.
When you file a lawsuit you do not sue the insurance company. Instead, you must sue the individual who caused your property damage or personal injuries. Once you file the lawsuit, the negligent driver's insurance company will step in and provide an attorney to represent their insured.
You can access the California Small Claims Courts here.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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