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How Long You Have After a Car Accident to File a Claim

Being involved in a car accident can be stressful at best and a devastating tragedy at worst. If you or anyone close to you has been involved in a serious car accident very recently, rest assured that there is enough time to take care of the immediate medical emergency before filing any claims. Nevertheless, it is highly advisable to get started with the process of filing your claim as soon as possible.

Even if the accident took place a while ago, you may still be eligible for compensation. In that case, a closer look at the variable particulars of the concerned case would be necessary to determine how much time you have left to file a claim. There are indeed quite a few variables, and we will discuss them for clarity next.

Insurance Claims Versus Personal Injury & Property Damage Claims

The first claim needs to be filed with the insurance company that is liable to pay for your damages. If the insurance amount is deemed adequate, then filing a lawsuit to claim further personal and property damage may no longer be necessary. If the compensation offered is found to be inadequate, then you should discuss the potential of filing a legal claim with your lawyer.

However, this is where you must take the concerned state’s general policy towards car insurance into account. Based on their car insurance laws, all US states can be divided into Fault or At-fault States and No-Fault States.

Fault (At-Fault) States

In fault states, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is liable to pay for both personal and property damages caused by their client.

No-Fault States

In No-Fault states, the at-fault driver’s insurer will only need to pay for the property damage. To receive medical and personal injury compensations, the injured party will need to file a separate claim with their own insurer.

As far as the time limit for filing insurance claims are concerned, they will vary depending on several factors such as the concerned state, the particular insurer, the insurance policy’s specific terms, the circumstances surrounding the accident, etc. As a general rule, no party should take more than 15 days to file an insurance claim with the liable insurance company. Ideally, it should be filed within a week’s time.

Note that you might be eligible to claim further compensation, even if you were compensated previously by the insurance company. However, the claim must be filed within the timeframe of the concerned state’s statute of limitations. Only an experienced car accident lawyer would be able to tell you whether your case has more to gain by filing a lawsuit for more compensation or not. Involve your lawyer early on and they should be able to negotiate with the insurance company and help you receive better compensation.

Different States Have Different Deadlines for Filing Different Claims

How long you have to file a claim depends on the concerned state and the type of claim above all else. The concerned state will always be the state where the accident occurred, irrespective of whether one or more cars involved in the accident are registered in a different state or not.

To find out how much time you have left to filing a claim after being in a car accident, there are two primary factors which you must consider:

  1. Different US states have different statutes of limitations for car accidents (time allowance).
  2. In some US states the time allowance is different for filing personal injury claims and property damage claims.

Now that you know some of the variables, all you need to do is take a look at the following chart and match the statute of limitation with the details of your potential car accident lawsuit.

US States with Equal Time Allowances for Both Personal Injury and Property Damage Claims

  • Alabama: 2 years
  • Alaska: 2 years
  • Arizona: 2 years
  • Arkansas: 3 years
  • California: 2 years
  • Colorado: 3 years
  • Connecticut: 2 years
  • Delaware: 2 years
  • Federal District of Washington DC: 3 years
  • Washington: 3 years
  • Florida: 4 years
  • Hawaii: 2 years
  • Indiana: 2 years
  • Kansas: 2 years
  • Louisiana: 1 year
  • Maine: 6 years
  • Maryland: 3 years
  • Massachusetts: 3 years
  • Michigan: 3 years
  • Mississippi: 3 years
  • Missouri: 5 years
  • Nebraska: 4 years
  • New Hampshire: 3 years
  • New Jersey: 6 years
  • New York: 3 years
  • North Carolina: 3 years
  • North Dakota: 6 years
  • Ohio: 4 years
  • Oklahoma: 2 years
  • Pennsylvania: 2 years
  • South Carolina: 3 years
  • Texas: 2 years
  • Vermont: 3 years
  • West Virginia: 2 years
  • Wyoming: 4 years

US States with Separate Time Allowances for Personal Injury and Property damage Claims

  • Georgia: 2 years for personal injury claims and 4 years for property damage
  • Idaho: 2 years for personal injury claims and 3 years for property damage
  • Illinois: 2 years for personal injury claims and 5 years for property damage
  • Iowa: 2 years for personal injury claims and 5 years for property damage
  • Kentucky: 1 year for personal injury claims and 2 years for property damage
  • Minnesota: 2 years for personal injury claims and 6 years for property damage
  • Montana: 3 years for personal injury claims and 2 years for property damage
  • Nevada: 2 years for personal injury claims and 3 years for property damage
  • New Mexico: 3 years for personal injury claims and 4 years for property damage
  • Oregon: 3 years for personal injury claims and 6 years for property damage
  • Rhode Island: 3 years for personal injury claims and 10 years for property damage
  • South Dakota: 3 years for personal injury claims and 6 years for property damage
  • Tennessee: 1 year for personal injury claims and 3 years for property damage
  • Utah: 4 years for personal injury claims and 3 years for property damage
  • Virginia: 2 years for personal injury claims and 5 years for property damage
  • Wisconsin: 3 years for personal injury claims and 6 years for property damage

The time limit of a claim will generally start from the day of the accident, which is true for both insurance claims, as well as lawsuits. However, there are other factors that might come into play. For example, if someone victimized by the car accident develops a medical condition further down the line that is a direct or indirect effect of the accident, then their time limit for filing a personal injury claim for compensation will start from the time when they were first made aware of that condition, or when they should have been aware of the same.

Time limits for filing cases will depend on a number of factors.  For example, many state have a shorter statute of limitations if the defendant is a government employee/entity.  No matter who the defendant is, what state you’re in, or what kind of case, you should always consult with a lawyer to find out how much time you have to file a claim/lawsuit.

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