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 claims time limits depend on the insurance provider and the laws of your state. However, generally, a claim for personal injuries needs to be filed within two years, and property damage claims must be filed within three years. The legal term for this filing deadline is a statute of limitations. So 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. 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 near, you must file a lawsuit to stop the clock. Time to resolve the claim is automatically extended once your lawsuit is filed. The legal term for this pause is called tolling the statute of limitations. Remember you must file your personal injury and property claims together in a single lawsuit.
What Happens if You File Late?
Most states give you two to three years to settle your 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 few days late. This harsh response is based on the reality that as time passes, memories fade and records 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.
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.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.