The time in which you can file a claim following a car accident may differ due to many factors. You may be unable to file for quite some time after the incident, as you may be awaiting medical documentation or are simply facing delays in receiving reports from the police, highway patrol, etc. Many different things can delay the filing process so you must be able to discern when it is best to file your personal injury claim before it’s too late.
When Should I File?
Nearly all insurers will tell you that it is best to file your claim as soon as possible. This is because they want information while it is fresh and up-to-date. This is also best in case there are any missing details, you can still go back and check on the vehicle if it has been impounded, for instance, to find any further evidence of damages. This is also suitable if you happen to have witnesses – the earlier you file, the less chance there is of them forgetting any significant details.
There are greater presiding laws over this issue, however – it is not just up to you or possible delays of documentation. Every state has a unique variation of the “statute of limitations,” which is a law specifying the timeline in which individuals are allowed to file lawsuits. Anything filed after the specified timeframe is subject to dismissal (keep in mind, though, that it is not guaranteed to be dismissed).
This law is to the benefit of both the claimant and the defendant. For the claimant, it gives you an abundance of time to gather all the necessary documentation, especially medical. Some injuries take quite a long time to surface following an incident, and you may need to monitor your physical condition over a significant period. Most statutes restrict the time to file to around two years, so check your local laws to be sure of the time available to you.
Despite all of this, though, just be reminded that you will achieve the best outcome for your case if you file as soon as possible. This way, you are protected from the possibility of any physical evidence being lost and witnesses becoming inaccessible or unreliable in their memory.
Common Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
In some instances, if you need it, you may be able to obtain an extension on the statute of limitations. For instance, if:
- The injured party was a minor, the time limit will begin on their 18th birthday.
- The injured party was determined to be legally incompetent at the time of injury.
- The defendant intentionally obscured their role in the injury or the injury itself.
If you are ready to file a claim or are wondering when to do so, it is best that you contact a personal injury lawyer. They will investigate your case and guide you in the filing process, letting you know when exactly it is best to file. This way, you will get the best results for your case and earn the compensation you need for a full recovery.