A man taking pictures of car damage after an accident

What Is The Time Limit for Filing a Claim With USAA Insurance After a Car Accident?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

USAA does not explicitly state a specific time limit for filing a claim, however, it is generally recommended that you report an accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours of the event. The sooner you report the incident, the sooner your insurer can begin the claims process.

It is also important to note that legal time limits, known as statutes of limitations, do apply, especially in the state of California. These vary by state, typically ranging from one to six years from the date of the accident. These limits apply to the filing of a lawsuit if you and your insurance company can’t agree on the settlement amount. See below for more details about the statute of limitation in California.

What is USAA?

USAA, which stands for United Services Automobile Association, is a financial services group of companies. One of the services USAA provides is car insurance, along with other types of insurance (homeowners, renters, life, etc.), banking, investing, and financial advice.

USAA car insurance is known for its excellent customer service and high customer satisfaction rates. It offers coverage typical of most auto insurance companies, including liability coverage, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, personal injury protection, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Additional services such as roadside assistance and rental reimbursement are also available.

One distinctive feature of USAA is that its services, including car insurance, are only available to military members, veterans, and their eligible family members. This exclusive focus allows the company to tailor its offerings to the specific needs of military families.

As with all insurance companies, the specifics of what’s covered and the rates you’ll pay with USAA depend on a variety of factors, including your personal driving history, your car, where you live, the amount of coverage you select, and other factors.

Please note that while USAA is widely respected for its services, it’s always a good idea to shop around and compare auto insurance offerings from different providers to make sure you’re getting the coverage that best fits your needs and budget.

What is the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident in California?

The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in California is generally two years from the date of the accident. This means that if you are injured in a car accident, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. For property damage (for instance, to your car), the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the accident. 

However, if a government entity is involved (for instance, if your accident was caused by a defect in the road, and you need to make a claim against the city or county), the time limit is typically much shorter. In this case, you might have as little as six months to file a claim. It’s important to remember that these limits apply to filing a lawsuit, not to making an insurance claim. It’s always best to notify your insurance company of an accident as soon as possible.

Why is it important to quickly file a lawsuit after a car accident?

There are several reasons why it’s important to quickly file a lawsuit or claim after a car accident:

  1. Statute of Limitations: As mentioned, every state has a statute of limitations, or time limit, within which you must file a lawsuit. If you fail to file within this time frame, you could lose your right to pursue legal action entirely, regardless of the merit of your claim.
  2. Preservation of Evidence: Over time, evidence from the accident scene may be lost or become more difficult to acquire. Surveillance video might be deleted, witnesses may forget key details, and physical evidence at the scene may be removed or altered. Filing quickly helps ensure the best possible preservation and documentation of the evidence.
  3. Witness Recollection: Witnesses’ memories can fade over time, and details can become fuzzy or inaccurate. The sooner you begin the legal process, the sooner your attorney can take statements from witnesses while the event is still fresh in their minds.
  4. Medical Documentation: If you’re injured, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately and to document your injuries and their relation to the accident. A delay in seeking medical treatment could be used against you by the insurance company or the court to argue that your injuries were not serious or were not caused by the accident.
  5. Financial Compensation: If you’ve suffered significant damages, whether to your vehicle or through medical bills due to injuries, filing quickly can speed up the process of receiving compensation.

Remember, even though it is important to act quickly, it is also crucial not to rush through the process. Take the time to understand your rights, consult with a legal professional, and ensure that any legal action you take is done correctly and in your best interest.

What steps should you take after getting into a car accident in California?

Getting into a car accident can be a stressful and disorienting experience, but it’s crucial to stay calm and take the following steps to ensure everyone’s safety and to protect your rights:

  1. Check for Injuries: Check yourself and all other parties involved for injuries. If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately.
  2. Move to Safety (if possible): If it’s safe to do so and your car is still operational, move out of the flow of traffic to a safe location. Turn on your hazard lights to signal to other drivers.
  3. Contact Law Enforcement: Regardless of the severity of the accident, you should contact law enforcement. In many cases, especially when there’s significant property damage or any injuries, this is a legal requirement. The police will write a report documenting the accident, which can be helpful later during the insurance claim process.
  4. Exchange Information: Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, and license plate numbers with the other drivers involved. Also note the make, model, and color of the other vehicles involved.
  5. Document the Accident: If it’s safe, take pictures of the accident scene from several angles, showing the damage to all vehicles involved. This can be valuable evidence for your insurance claim. Note the time and location of the accident, as well as any potential contributing factors (like poor lighting or road conditions).
  6. Identify Witnesses: If there were any witnesses to the accident, try to get their contact information. Their testimony may be useful if there’s a dispute about what happened.
  7. Report the Accident to your Insurance Company: Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with all the gathered information and cooperate with their investigation.
  8. Seek Medical Attention: Even if you think you’re not injured, it’s a good idea to get a medical check-up following an accident. Some injuries may not become apparent until later.
  9. Keep All Documentation: Keep a copy of all documents and records related to the accident, including medical bills, the police report, communications with your insurance company, and any receipts for related expenses (like a rental car).
  10. Consult a Lawyer: If there were injuries or significant damage, or if liability is in dispute, it may be wise to consult with a lawyer experienced in car accidents. They can help protect your rights and advise on any necessary legal action.

Remember, every situation is unique, so these steps may vary depending on the circumstances. It’s essential to stay calm, prioritize safety, and make sure your actions are in compliance with the law.

Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident? Get Help Today.

Being aware of the specific time limits applicable in your state and taking fast action can ensure you take advantage of your rights. The car accident lawyers at J&Y Law have the experience needed to get the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering. Contact our car accident attorneys today to get started on the road to justice.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.