car accident lawsuit

Accidents among motor vehicles can lead to severe injuries, emotional distress, and financial burdens. If you or a loved one has been involved in a collision, knowing what legal options are available is important. This guide explains how to file a car accident lawsuit California, detailing the steps involved and when it might be necessary to pursue legal action. We will also clarify the difference between a claim and a lawsuit, and when each is appropriate.



Insurance Claim vs. Lawsuit:
Understanding the Difference

When you are involved in a car accident, the initial step is typically to file a road accident claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This is a request for financial compensation for your injuries and damages. If the insurance company agrees to the car accident claim, you might receive a settlement without needing to go to court.


However, there are circumstances where filing an injury claim might not suffice:

  • Inadequate Compensation: If the settlement offer does not cover all your expenses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, you might need to file a car accident lawsuit.
  • Disputed Liability: If the at-fault party’s insurance provider denies their client’s responsibility for the accident, a lawsuit may be necessary.
  • Refusal to Settle: If the insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement, taking legal action may be the next step.

A lawsuit is a formal legal step taken to seek a payout through the court system. It is often more time-consuming than filing an insurance claim, but it can result in a higher compensation if successful.

Steps to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in California

Filing an auto accident lawsuit California involves several steps. Below is a detailed breakdown to guide you through the process:

1. Seek Medical Attention After an Auto Accident

Seek immediate medical care following the accident, even if you think your injuries are minor. Some injuries, like whiplash or traumatic brain injury, might not be immediately obvious. Medical records will also serve as crucial evidence in your injury case.

2. Gather Evidence

A strong case is comprised equally strong evidence, such as:

  • Accident Scene Photos: Take pictures of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any visible injuries.
  • Witness Statements: Get contact information and statements from any witnesses.
  • Police Report: Obtain a copy of the police report, which provides an official account of the accident (particularly citing the other party’s fault and negligence).

3. Report the Accident

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with all the necessary details, but avoid saying anything that might be misconstrued as admitting fault. Better yet, do not give any recorded statements without getting legal advice from an accident attorney first.

4. Consult with a California Car Accident Lawyer

Before proceeding with the claim process, consult with an experienced car accident lawyer. They can evaluate your case, advise you on the best course of action, and help you understand the potential outcomes of a car accident lawsuit.

5. File a Complaint

Your auto accident lawyer will draft and file a legal complaint with the appropriate California court. The complaint will outline the details of the accident, your injuries, and the compensation you seek. Once filed, the defendant (the at-fault party) will be formally notified.

6. Discovery Phase

During the discovery phase, both parties will exchange information and evidence related to the case. This can include depositions, interrogatories, and document requests. The discovery phase is critical for gathering all the necessary information to build a strong case.

7. Negotiation and Mediation

Before the trial, there may be attempts to settle the case through negotiation or mediation. Your lawyer will negotiate with the defendant’s legal team to reach a settlement that both sides can agree on. If a deal is reached, the case will not go to trial.

8. Trial

If a settlement still cannot be reached despite conversations, the case will then proceed to trial. During this time, both sides will present their arguments and evidence. A judge or jury will then determine the outcome and the amount of compensation.

Key Considerations for Filing a Lawsuit

Statute of Limitations

In California, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the accident. It’s critical to act within this timeframe to ensure your right to seek medical care and money is protected.

Road Accident Claim

To file a claim, document all your injuries and expenses thoroughly to maximize your payout. This includes medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages and future income, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more. Detailed records will support your claim and strengthen your personal injury case.

File a Car Accident Lawsuit

A lawsuit can cover various damages, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and emotional distress. If you experience ongoing pain or other long-term effects, these should also be included in your lawsuit. Consulting with a knowledgeable injury attorney can help you understand the potential value of your case and the best strategy for pursuing it.

Simplify the Claim Process for Your Personal Injury Case. File a Claim With the Help of RTM Law Firm.
Free Consultation.

If you or a loved one is suffering from injuries after a car accident in California, don’t wait. Contact the experienced car accident and injury lawyers at RTM Law Firm for a free consultation. By following the steps outlined above and seeking the right legal assistance, you can confidently pursue the compensation you need to recover and move forward with your life.


Pursue a claim or file a personal injury lawsuit now.


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