How Long Do I Have to File a Case After My Car Accident?

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Whether you had a fender bender in a parking lot or experienced a serious crash, it is important to take steps to ensure that potential injuries and damages will be covered by your insurance. 

But while your adrenaline is racing and you are taking steps to handle factors related to your accident, you might not be up to calling your insurer immediately. Once the dust settles, you might be wondering: how long do you have to file a claim after your car accident?

Start with Reporting

Your auto insurance policy will probably not specify a timeline for reporting your accident. You likely will read language that suggests you report the accident to your insurer “right away” or “as soon as possible.” Although vague, this is good advice. Reporting an accident to your insurer is not the same thing as filing a claim, but it is a key step in the process. That phone call or visit to your insurer’s website helps your chances to file a successful claim in the days or weeks after an accident. 

You may also need to report your accident to the police. In most states, you must report an accident to police if anyone was injured or if there was significant property damage. It makes sense to contact law enforcement while you are still at the scene of the accident, so that the officer can investigate and record information about the accident. Insurance providers will use a police report as evidence in the claims process.

In any case, make sure to record important information from the other driver at the site of the accident that your insurance provider may need:

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Insurance provider and policy number
  • Make, model, and license plate number
  • Photos of the scene, involved vehicles, and damage or injuries

Learn Your State’s Statute of Limitations

Each state has a different statute of limitations on claims for personal injury and for property damage. A statute of limitations is the time limit to take any legal action. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for both personal injury and property damage is two years; in California, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years, while property damage is three years.

You need to file a claim within the applicable statute of limitations in your state, or you may find that your claim is denied. However, if you start experiencing pain months after your car accident and you want to explore a personal injury claim, your insurance provider may be able to help you if you reported the accident at the time it happened.

If you have questions about your rights in an accident or if your claim is denied, seek the help of auto accident lawyers from a law office like MartinWren, P.C. A law firm will be able to answer any of your personal questions about your auto accident and to give you a more clear outlook on some of your legal options.