How Long Do You Have to File a Auto Accident Claim?

 Car Accident Laywer

Getting into a car accident is rarely hassle-free. To make matters even more stressful, damages can be latent. You may not realize that you have sustained a personal injury or serious car damage until well after the accident has occurred. At this point, you may be wondering if it’s too late to file a claim – but you might be surprised to find that you still have time.

Contacting the Police

Because insurance companies use official police reports as evidence for your claim, your first step is to contact the police after your accident. Any claim above $2,000 in damages will require a police report. Some states allow up to a month for you to report an accident, but the majority require you to call the police at the scene of the crime. Generally, this is considered best practice, as most insurance companies require timely reporting of the crime for you to be eligible for coverage. You can file a claim with your insurer later, especially if you have damages that don’t appear immediately, so long as your insurer receives an official record of the accident.

Filing as Soon as Possible

After reporting, check in with your insurer about their guidelines. Many insurance policies have a specific timeline in which you can file a claim. As a general rule, file as soon as possible. Insurance companies become suspicious of claims that are filed towards the end of the given timeline. Chances are they will have to conduct an investigation to ensure the damages you’re claiming are not from a more recent accident, thus increasing the likelihood of your coverage being denied.

Taking Legal Action

If you were involved in an accident where you sustained damages that you were not at fault for, you have the option of pursuing legal action. Each state has its own statute of limitations, so the length of time you have to file a lawsuit will change depending on your location. There are also different statutes of limitations for personal injury and property damage. In all states aside from Utah and Montana, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims are either the same or lower than those for property damage. The time period can range anywhere between 1 and 10 years, with the average being about 3 years.

If you’re filing a larger claim, are worried about late-stage damages, or are thinking about filing a lawsuit, don’t hesitate to hire a car accident lawyer. Their expert knowledge may guide you in the right direction, keep you to a timeline, and help you avoid making costly mistakes.


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