How Long Does Someone Have before They Can Make a Claim on an Injury from a Car Accident?

When you have been involved in a any type of accident, you can file a claim for compensation as soon as you are physically able to complete the process. The only limitations there are in regard to filing a claim for compensation concern how long you have from the date of the accident to make the initial claim.

The Statute of Limitations

The Statute of Limitations is a set of laws that every state has that protects all parties in any type of lawsuit. When most people hear the term “Statute of Limitations,” they automatically think of criminal events. While these laws do apply to criminal charges, they also apply to all civil actions as well.

The reason for a limitation on the amount of time that you can seek compensation is to protect all parties involved in the lawsuit. Over time, information is forgotten, memories are changed, evidence can be misplaced, and witnesses move away or die. Businesses can close, doctors who provided treatment can retire – the list can go on for what could corrupt the information surrounding the case.

To avoid this, each state has enacted a specific time line to follow for civil and criminal cases that ensures that the case can be held fairly for all those involved.

In personal injury cases, most states require that you file your initial request for compensation within 18-24 months of the accident date. The only exceptions to these rules, in most cases, are if a wrongful death occurs as a result of the injuries from an accident. Then, the parties seeking compensation have 18-24 months to seek compensation from the date of the death.

Protecting Your Rights to Compensation

It will always be in your best interest to seek out legal representation and file for compensation as soon as possible after the accident has occurred. This is the best way to protect your rights as an accident victim and avoid any issues with the Statute of Limitations in your state.

By seeking compensation soon after your injury occurred, you are making it much harder for the insurance provider to deny your claim. It is the goal of every insurance company to greatly reduce or deny any form of compensation that you may be entitled to under the law and the terms of the insurance policy. Having legal representation right from the start will give you the edge you need to keep the insurance company from wrongfully denying you medical care, services, or compensation.

Avoid Making Full Statements to Insurer without Legal Representation

It is very important to understand that the insurance company covering your accident will want to start the “compensation” process immediately. It has become common for insurance adjusters to arrive at the emergency room and begin to demand information about your injuries and losses.

In reality, you have no idea what is going on with your injuries at this time or what losses you will incur. How can you possibly know how much time you will miss from work or if you can return to work due to your injuries at this time? You cannot know the extent of your injuries or the pain you will suffer from them in the future.

Insurance adjusters know this, but they want to get a written or oral statement saying that “this is all” that is wrong and that you will recover. This cuts their obligations to you and leads to a denial of claims or greatly reduced benefits.

It is in your best interest to do the following when approached by the insurance adjuster after your accident:

  • Provide you full name and date of birth
  • Provide your address and phone contact information
  • Give them the time and date of the accident
  • Agree that you have been injured, but state that you do not know to what extent
  • Ask to end the interview until you have spoken with your attorney

You have every right to have legal representation for this interview, regardless of what they say. Do not provide any additional details of your injuries or how you feel at this time. The insurance company will be given this information by your attorney.

Insurance adjusters will always tell you that time is of the essence at this point and will demand more information. This is just a tactic to get you to say something that they can use against you at a later point in time. Simply decline the interview politely and tell them your attorney will contact them shortly.

It is also very important to remember at this time that you avoid posting anything on social media about your accident, your injuries, your recovery, or your case. From the moment that you inform the insurance company that you are seeking compensation for your losses, they will begin to monitor your online activity. Yes, this is perfectly legal because social media is considered the “public domain.”

Benefits of Early Representation

There are several benefits to seeking legal representation early in your case for compensation. These benefits include:

  • Avoiding any issues with the Statute of Limitations. Your attorney will ensure that you meet all state guidelines for submissions of legal paperwork to stay in compliance with these Statutes and the Rules of Civil Procedure.
  • Your attorney works directly with the adjustor. The minute you have legal representation your insurance adjuster will work directly with your attorney. Your attorney understands this industry very well and will be able to aggressively present your case to the adjuster. The attorney also knows the guidelines to follow for a successful case.
  • Giving yourself stress relief. Seeking compensation from an insurance company is never easy, especially if you have never done it before. The process has been designed to be stressful and frustrating so that those seeking compensation will give up. Your attorney can manage this stress while you concentrate on what is important – recovering from your injuries.

Using an attorney to manage your case will also ensure that you receive the medical care and therapy you need in accordance with your care providers and not the insurance company.