Car Accident Insurance Claims Time Limits
A careless driver hit your car in a parking lot. You agreed to let the driver make payments so their insurance rates wouldn't increase. But after a few months, they've stopped paying and now you want to file a claim with the insurance company. Have you waited too long?
Car accident insurance claim time limits depend on the insurance provider and the laws of your state. There is a time limit for filing a claim and filing a lawsuit too late may result in having your claim denied. The legal term for this filing deadline is a statute of limitations. You don't need to resolve your claim within the limitations period but you do need to have it filed in court.
When Does the Clock Start to Run?
Your right to pursue a claim typically starts on the day of the accident and runs to an exact date in the future. As mentioned above, each state has its own statute of limitations.
It's important to understand that your personal injury claim likely has a different deadline than your property damage claim. You should find out how long the statute is in your state, both for your property damage claim, as well as for your personal injuries. Write these dates down and keep them in mind during settlement negotiations.
If you were injured by a federal, state, or local government employee, there's a different procedure for filing a claim. Also, your time limit for filing this type of claim is usually shorter.
Give Yourself Time to File
If the statute of limitations on your claim is approaching, you must file a lawsuit to beat the clock. Once you've filed the case in court, you've met the statute. Remember, depending on the laws of your state, you may be required to file both your personal injury claim and property claim together in a single lawsuit.
What Happens if You File Late?
Most states give you 2 to 3 years to file a car accident insurance claim. If you file after the statute of limitations has passed, the court will reject your claim, even if you are only a single day late.
The statute takes away the court's authority to grant you relief. Although this may seem harsh, it is based on the reasoning that if you want justice, you must be diligent in pursuing it and cannot just sit on your rights without doing anything. Besides, with the passage of time, witness memories fade, and essential records and other evidence may get lost.
There are reasons why your claim may be filed late, such as not knowing the identity of the person who hit you, or you were under the age of 18 when the accident occurred. Although exceptions to the statute of limitations do exist in some states, they are not worth depending on because of the risk of completely losing your claim.
Making a Car Accident Insurance Claim? Get Legal Help Today
Even if you feel confident that you can resolve your claim through settlement negotiations, it's still wise to make sure you have plenty of time to file a lawsuit if negotiations don't work out. Speak with an experienced car accident attorney to develop a strategy for your claim and protect your right to go to court.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.