Today I got a call from a prospective client who was involved in an accident in 2010. He told me that he had reached an agreement with the insurance company for the responsible party, but he had not signed any paperwork yet. He was waiting to see if he was feeling much better before deciding what to do. He wanted to make sure his medical bills were completely covered.
He was told by a friend of his that he had three years to bring a lawsuit against the other party. Unfortunately, he got the wrong information. The current statute in California is two years from the date of the incident. Therefore, while this gentleman may have reached a tentative settlement with the insurance company, he was ultimately at their mercy because he never finalized the settlement. Therefore, he cannot bring a lawsuit against the other party. Indeed, he may be out of luck.
This is the danger that occurs when friends and family give you advice. There's nothing wrong with listening to others, but if they give you the wrong information, it may affect your case. This is the same when people tell you your case should be worth "a lot of money," or you "have no case," or you have "five years to file a lawsuit." I hear the influence of others all the time, "My friend says I should be able to get $40,000 for my case because his aunt Jenny in Kansas got $50,000 for her sprained ankle!" In this case, "My friend said I have 3 years to bring a lawsuit."
Remember, your friends and family are simply your friends and family. They are not professionals who do this every day. You should always consult with a lawyer when it comes to your personal injury case. You have nothing to lose in most cases and everything to gain. There's nothing wrong with a free consultation that can set you on the right path. Also, the more information you have, the more of an educated decision you can make about how to proceed. Just because a friend tells you that you have "three years" to bring a lawsuit doesn't make it true.
If you have questions regarding your personal injury case, feel free to call my office at (661) 414-7100. We might be able to help you.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,