How Long Do I Have to File an Underinsured Motorist Claim?

If you have been injured in an accident, you might need to bring a lawsuit in order to receive compensation for your injuries. Many of our clients suffer serious economic losses due to the cost of necessary medical care as well as lost income if they cannot return to work.

If a motorist does not have adequate insurance, you might need to tap your underinsured motorist insurance to receive compensation. Read on for more information about the time limits you must meet.

What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

It might be helpful to first understand when you would need to use your underinsured motorist insurance. Under California law, any person who registers a car must buy minimum liability insurance:

  • At least $15,000 for the injury/death of one person per accident
  • At least $30,000 for the injury/death of more than one person in a single accident
  • At least $5,000 for property damage per accident

However, many accidents cause much more than this amount of damage. For example, if you suffer a serious brain injury, you might be out of commission for four or five months and unable to work. In addition to thousands of dollars in medical care, you could lose out on half a year of income. These economic losses will probably easily exceed the minimum $15,000 that the at-fault driver carries.

The same is true if a loved one dies in a car accident. Under California law, you can receive compensation for loss of companionship as well as for wages your loved one would have earned had they lived. These amounts almost always exceed $15,000.

The California uninsured motorist statute requires that an insurer offer you underinsured motorist insurance and that you decline it in writing. Hopefully, you purchased underinsured motorist coverage instead, so you will be able to receive more insurance benefits for your bodily injuries.

How Long Does a Person Have to Make a Claim?

The uninsured motorist statute of limitations in California for filing a lawsuit is generally 2 years from the date of the accident. If you are making a claim for uninsured motorist coverage benefits, you must do one of the following within 2 years to comply with Insurance Code § 11580.2(i)(1):

  • File a lawsuit against the underinsured motorist in court
  • Reach an agreement to the amount due
  • Formally institute arbitration proceedings by sending a notice to the insurer in writing, certified mail, return receipt requested

You definitely want to make sure that you comply with this rule, otherwise you will not be able to receive compensation for your injuries. Reach out to an attorney if you have questions about how to protect your rights.

RMD Can Help with Your Insurance Claim

Car accidents cause significant damage and can bankrupt many people who do not have the money to miss months of work or cover pricey medical care. If you were struck by an underinsured motorist, you will need the help of an experienced Orange County car accident lawyer.

RMD Law is here to assist. To schedule a free consultation, please call or send us an online message.

Aria Miran
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