FAQ’s for Claims of $10,000 or Less Against Caltrans
Are there time limitations for filing a claim against Caltrans?
There are time limitations for presenting your claim. Most claims, such as those for injuries to a person or property, have a six-month limit from the date of an incident; some have a one-year limit. If you are not sure, see Government Code section 911.2.
Where do I file a claim against Caltrans?
You will need to know the county where your incident occurred. A police report or other information provided to you at the time of your incident should provide you with the necessary information. Each county is covered by a specific District Claims Office. Click on the county of the map on the main page to obtain the address and phone number for the District Claims Office for filing your claim.
What do I do first to file a claim?
You must fill out the form identified on the main page. Submit it and two written estimates to the appropriate District Claims Office. You can submit any other information which you believe will aid Caltrans in determining the value of your claim. Remember, if your claim is greater than $10,000, you must file a claim with the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board on the form they provide.
How long will it take for my claim to be processed?
By law, Caltrans must act on a claim within 45 days of receipt of the claim. However, that time can be extended upon the agreement of Caltrans and the claimant. If a claim is accepted, actual payment may take longer and depends upon the claimant filling out and returning a release and other paperwork. This time period is not set by law but can take up to eight weeks upon receipt of all the final paperwork.
I want to check on the status of a pending claim. Whom can I contact?
If you are seeking to obtain status of a claim, please contact the District Claims Office with which you filed your claim. The telephone number for each District Claims Office can be found by clicking on the county where your incident occurred on the map on the main page. When you call, please leave a detailed message that includes your name, claim number, a return telephone number, and date of incident. The District Claims Office will return your call at the earliest convenience.
What happens after I submit my claim?
A letter of acknowledgement providing your assigned claim number will be sent to you once we are in receipt of your completed form and supporting documents. Your claim will then be investigated by the District Claims Office. Forms which do not include the necessary information or have not been signed, will be returned and you will be notified of your deficiency. This will delay the investigation of your claim. To avoid any other delays in the District Claims Office’s investigation of your claim, you will need to provide all supporting documents requested on the form. Once the investigation concludes, the District Claims Office will contact you by mail specifying the outcome.
What if I wish to file a claim but have surpassed the time for presenting a claim?
When a claim is not presented to the appropriate District Claims Office within the six-month time period, a written application for leave to present a late claim may be submitted to the same District Claims Office, had the claim been timely. You only have one year from the date of your incident to file an application for leave to file a late claim. You should file a Late Claim Application using the same claim form but title it as “Application for Leave to file Late Claim” and explain in detail why the claim is late. The Late Claim Application may be granted or denied on very limited grounds (see Government Code section 911.6). Only if the application for leave to file a late claim is granted will Caltrans consider the merits of the claim.
What if my claim is over $10,000?
Government Code Section 935.7 authorizes the Department of Transportation to adjust and pay claims which are for $10,000 or less. To file a claim over $10,000, please contact the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board at 1-800-955-0045 or download a claim form from the Internet at http://www.vcgcb.ca.gov/claims/default.aspx.
What do I do if the District Claims Office denies my claim?
There are no further administrative processes with Caltrans. Your next step, if you believe your claim has merit, is to file in Small Claims Court in the county in which your incident occurred. You have six (6) months from the date of the rejection of your claim to file with the appropriate court. For further information about filing an action in small claims court, please see http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/smallclaims/.
The fact that this brief statement of the initial procedure to be followed in submitting a claim against the State of California has been furnished to you or that an investigation of any claim is undertaken is not to be taken as an admission of liability in any respect on the part of the state or any of its officers or employees, nor is the fact that this informational statement has been furnished to you to be construed as a waiver of any requirements imposed by law or of any defense which may be available to the State of California in connection with any claim that may be filed against it.