Do I have a case if I did not understand about the statute of limitations on an auto accident ?

Asked 12 months ago - Victorville, CA

I was involved in an accident ( not my fault ) but did not clearly understand about the statute of limitations , so it ran out , the insurance co. did send one !! letter at the start of my claim , stating about the statute , but after that they never told me anything & I felt they drug it out !!! I gave them everything they asked for medical reports etc. when they asked me if I wanted to settle the case I told them I was still going through treatment , THEY DID NOT TELL ME THE STATUTE WAS ABOUT TO RUN OUT .., the only time they ever verbally told me about the statute is when it was to late !!!. I fell they really took advantage of me with the fact that they were very hard to get in touch with , MANY unanswered messages etc. ....do I have a case ??

Attorney answers (11)

  1. Wendy Marie Schenk

    Contributor Level 16

    21

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . In California, you have a deadline if 2 years to either settle or file suit to preserve your personal injury claim. They sent you a letter in advance telling you that. During those 2 years you never once consulted a lawyer? Sorry, "they" didnt "drag it out," you did. If you were still treating and not ready to settle, you should have filed a lawsuit. If you didnt like the offers made, you should have filed a lawsuit. If you blew the 2 year deadline, that's it. You can try consulting an attorney to review this, but they sent you notice of the deadline in advance and then you never followed up. They dont have any obligation to hold your hand and keep reminding you if the deadline. it was yout responsibility to keep an eye on that deadline. I don't see any recourse on this one.

    This response is intended solely as general information, not as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  2. Michael Raymond Daymude

    Contributor Level 20

    19

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If the statute has run, you're out of luck. However, whether or not the SOL has run is a question of fact and you may have defenses. If this is your insurance company, as opposed to the carrier for the other party, you may have additional rights in contract. Bottom line: You need to pay for a consultation with an attorney who can review the facts, including the correspondence between you and the insurance company, to determine if the statute has run. Good luck.

    SINCE 1974. My answers are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers assume California law.... more
  3. David Ian Schoen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    19

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No, this is one of the many reasons that you consult with an attorney in situations such as this.

  4. C. Donald Briggs III

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    18

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You should consult with a local attorney about this. Unless the representations made by the insurance company rise to the level of fraud, you may be out of luck.

  5. Minh Tri Nguyen

    Contributor Level 10

    15

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This is one of the reasons why you constantly hear lawyers tell the public to consult a lawyer immediately following an accident. The insurance company is hard at work to minimize your claim (and increase its profits). You (and the public) need someone who is looking out for your interest. The insurance company's incentives to "help" you is only motivated by certain legal requirements under California law. In your situation, the insurance company was only required to send you one notice informing you that you must file a lawsuit within two (2) years from the date of the collision for personal injuries and three (3) years for property damage. There is no requirement that the insurance company remind you of the deadline. Insurance companies routinely delay resolving claims for the same reason you find yourself in...some times people fail to file timely claims and the insurance company is then off the hook in paying the injured person's damages. So for example, if your claim was worth $100K, the insurance company just "profited" $100K. Hopefully your injuries are not too serious and that you are able to weather this situation financially and health-wise. If not, then make sure your family and friends know about your situation so that they can avoid making the same mistake. You can also call and complain to your local state legislatures so that if the rules (law) are ever amended, they can have a real life story to tell about the change.

    My best wishes to you.

    This is a legal disclaimer that my advice here are for general purposes only and does not create an attorney-... more
  6. Paul J Molinaro

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    13

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Insurance company employ professional claims handlers for every single claim made... every single one... this is worth repeating... EVERY... SINGLE... ONE... they don't go and think, hmmm... let's let the mortgage broker on the floor below handle this one as it looks really easy and it will save us some money 'cause those professionals want too much money. Likewise, every single claimant with a bodily injury should "employ" a professional wherein professional is defined as "lawyer." Having professionals on each side is designed to avoid rookie mistakes like letting a statute of limitations stop a great case dead in its tracks.



    - Paul

    Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
    Attorney at Law, Physician

    Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D. Attorney at Law, Physician Fransen & Molinaro, LLP 4160 Temescal Canyon Road,... more
  7. Michael Shemtoub

    Contributor Level 17

    11

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Was this your own insurance in an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim?? Or was it another party's insurance? Did you have insurance at the time?

    How much are your medical bills.

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for... more
  8. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Have a local lawyer investigate. Avvo has a terrific "find a lawyer" tool to find a top-rated Avvo lawyer with a low contingency fee.

  9. Richard Andrew Harting

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Basic statute is 2 years. There are some exceptions that can 'toll' (extend) that time period, such as a period of incapacity, or the defendant was out of state. you should immediately consult with an attorney time is really against you and every day counts.

  10. Albert Lee Crosner

    Contributor Level 19

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Unfortunately, unless you have an exemption from the tolling of the Statute, you have run out of time. The insurance company DID notify you of the Statute which is the only requirement that they must perform. You really should have retained a professional personal injury attorney and you did yourself a disservice in not doing so. It is too bad that this has happened to you. I would suggest as a few of my colleagues have mentioned, that you contact a local area personal injury attorney and discuss the matter in more detail with the attorney and have that attorney provide you with his/her thoughts. Best of luck.

    Mr. Crosner is licensed to practice law in California and has been practicing law in California since 1978. The... more
  11. Lars A. Lundeen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No, you do not have a case. You let the statute of limitations expire and you are now barred from bringing a claim. The carrier advised you in writing about the statute of limitations. Many State insurance commissioners, through the regulatory process, require a carrier to advise an unrepresented claimant in writing about the applicable statute of limitations. It appears the carrier complied with the regulation.

    You have learned a very costly and unfortunate lesson here, which hopefully others who read this on Avvo.com can profit from.

    Insurance carriers are neither your friend nor your good neighbor. The sole goal of any insurance company, as you have harshly learned, is to pay you nothing or as little as possible on your claim. Here, the carrier has paid nothing and will pay nothing.

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

    This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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