California Car Accident Settlement Process

California Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline

If a person or a member of his or her family were injured in a car accident in California, they may not like the idea of a pending lawsuit according to California traffic laws to settle the matter. The alternative is to understand the California car accident settlements process and timeline to negotiate a settlement. If the car accident in California results in property damage that is more than $750 or if someone is injured or killed in the accident, California car insurance laws require the driver to report car accident to the police.

If the driver has been taken into police custody in keeping with California traffic laws, he or she may need a financial guarantee that they will appear in court at the proper time in order to be allowed to be released from police custody. This is called bail and can be secured from a bail bondsman. If the person shows up in court at the promised time, the bail will be returned. If the person fails to appear in court at the proper time, he or she will forfeit the bail and be subject to arrest.


Car Accident Settlements

A settlement in a car accident in California is a legal agreement to drop any pending lawsuit connected with the accident and award damages. The settlement process is governed by the California Rules of Court Rule 3.1380. According to California Rules of the Court Rule 3.1380, all parties involved in the car accident must participate in at least one and possibly more settlement conferences to determine if the matter can be closed with a settlement before it is decided that it needs to proceed to trial.
If either party wants to file a personal injury claim, they must do it within two years of the accident. For property damage, California car insurance laws allow up to three years to file a claim. This means if there are any medical bills incurred because of the accident, the personal injury claim for financial compensation must be filed within two years, but if there is damage to the vehicle, the claim for compensation may be filed within three years.


How to get compensation for personal injury after a car accident?

If a person thinks he or she should be financially compensated for injury or vehicular damage after a car accident, it is recommended they get a personal injury lawyer specialist. It is not recommended to rely on an insurance company because it may not be in its best interest to negotiate compensation.
While both parties have the power to negotiate a settlement, research shows that if a person does his or her own negotiation, the settlement is usually lower than it may need to be to cover Medical bills both past and future including ongoing care

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of income and possible loss of earning capacity
  • Property damage and repairs
  • Other things that affect a person’s lifestyle


Get professional legal help as soon as possible after a car accident.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to negotiate a proper settlement. Negotiations may be as simple as a phone call or as formal as a demand letter. The insurance company may try to make a lower offer. The person will most likely not need to pay for these services until the settlement is reached and the person receives a substantial amount of financial compensation. If a settlement is reached, a formal settlement agreement will be drafted. Both parties, the attorneys and insurance carriers will sign the settlement letter. In addition, if the case needs to go to court, the person already has a lawyer who knows the case.

Some questions to ask a personal injury lawyer:

  • How long has he or she been practicing personal injury cases?
  • What is the fee structure for the lawyer’s services?
  • Is the lawyer familiar with the courts and judges in the local area?


The California car accident settlement process and timeline are very specific. After report car accident to the police and making bail if necessary a person should contact a lawyer to make sure his or her case is treated fairly and not shortchanged for compensation or dismissed completely.

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