How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury

If you become injured in an accident, your first priority is getting better. Your second priority may be returning to work or getting your car fixed. However, as you begin to improve, the medical bills can start to pile up. The doctor may even inform you that you cannot return to work in the same position you did before. Mental health problems could also emerge as you struggle to cope with what happened and the reduced quality of life it led to. This may lead you to ask how long after your car accident can you claim you injury?

Filing a personal injury claim can help you recover some or all of those damages. If the insurance company or court determines that the responsible driver was negligent, you may even receive punitive damages. Drunk driving, speeding or initially fleeing the scene can all increase the likelihood of you receiving punitive damages.

What Is a Car Accident Injury Claim?

Also known as a personal injury claim, such a claim allows you to seek damages related to the car accident you suffered. The compensation received can cover lost wages, medical bills, repairs or replacement of your vehicle and your pain and suffering.

You can begin your claims process with the responsible party’s auto insurance company. In some states, your policy may cover damages from a hit-and-run as well. If insurance companies or another responsible party does not provide a reasonable solution, then you can file a claim in court.

How Long Can You Wait Before Filing an Injury Claim for Your Car Accident?

Each state has its own tort laws that determine the statute of limitations on a claim. In some states, this gives you just one year to file a claim in court, while some others may give you up to six years.

1 to 2 Years

Louisiana and Tennessee are the only two states that give victims just one year to file a personal injury claim related to a car crash. Most states provide two years. These are some of the states with two-year limitations:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware

3 Years

Several states provide victims with three years to file a personal injury claim. Below are most of the states that do:

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi

4 to 6 Years

A minority of states provide a statute of limitations of four years or more years. Florida, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming are the only states that give four years. Only Missouri gives victims five years to file a claim. The states with six years for the statute of limitations include Maine, Minnesota and North Dakota.

When Is the Best Time To File a Claim?

The best time to file comes down to the specific details of your case. Only an experienced attorney can advise you on how best to proceed and when. However, there is some general advice you can keep in mind.

When it comes to minor to moderate injuries, it may be in your best interest to file a claim sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more difficulties you could run into, especially when it comes to proving that the injuries are worth receiving compensation for.

If you have more severe injuries and even disabilities, it is sometimes best to wait for a doctor’s projections of your condition before seeking compensation. Why is this? Your injuries may end up costing you more in the long run than you initially estimated. Because serious injuries tend to have longer-lasting effects, they are also easier to prove in court and require less urgency.

How Do I File a Claim for Car Accident Injuries?

The process begins at the scene of the accident. If your injuries are severe, you may complete these steps in a different order. Always put your health first.

Step 1: Gather Evidence

If you are not severely injured, try to collect what evidence you can. This includes the driver’s information, dashcam footage from passersby, contact information for eyewitnesses and photos of the scene. If the damage is extensive, the other driver flees the scene or you are injured, call the police.

Step 2: Seek Medical Care

Even if you do not feel injured, let a medical practitioner come to that conclusion. Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. If you do feel you have suffered injuries, then consider going to the emergency room. Note that without medical records, you may find it almost impossible to claim damages for injuries later on.

Step 3: Contact an Attorney

Before talking to any insurance companies, it can be in your best interest to speak with an attorney. This is because insurance agents may use whatever you say to determine how to proceed with the case or how to assign fault. The last thing you want is to say something that can be misconstrued and used against you. An attorney can prepare you for that call.

Step 4: Talk to the Insurance Companies

When you feel ready, you can speak with the insurance companies. If you are severely injured or do not feel up to the task for other reasons, your attorney can do some corresponding on your behalf. Note that insurance companies often try to close out cases cheaply by offering you much less than your case is worth.

Step 5: Negotiate or Present a Case

Your attorney may then proceed to negotiate with the insurance companies. If the insurance companies refuse to settle or you choose to move directly into litigation, you can also file a personal injury claim in civil court. Be mindful of the statute of limitations in your state when making a decision.

Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?

When it comes to any case that has the potential to involve money, big corporations or litigation, it is always a good idea to involve an attorney. Legal professionals can advise you on how best to navigate even the most complex cases. They can also estimate what your case is worth and how much to accept. Should you go to court, you can rely on them to present a convincing case on your behalf.

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