The Statute of Limitations in Car Accident Lawsuits: How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?

It can be tough to know what to do right after you are in a car accident. The first thing you always want to focus on is getting your medical concerns treated. After you have been to a doctor, the next step is to begin preparing your case against the at-fault driver so that you can get compensation for your injuries. No one should have to take on medical bills and other expenses alone.

Filing a claim right away will help get you the compensation you need to make you whole again.

There is a time limit on how long you have to file after your accident, so though you may be hurting it is important to get started right away to avoid missing any deadlines and potentially getting yourself in a position where your claim may be denied due to a late submission. The statute of limitations is different in every state and based on the type of claim you are filing, so understanding this information will make it less likely that you will miss a deadline.

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What is a Statute of Limitations and How Does it Work?

The statute of limitations is the legal time limit for filing criminal charges or a civil case against a person or entity for crimes or damages. Civil cases for financial damages almost always have a statute of limitations.

There are statutes of limitations at both the federal and state level. For the most part, when you are dealing with a car accident lawsuit, you will be dealing with the state level statute of limitations unless the at-fault party in the accident was somehow tied to a federal agency, in which case the statute will be different.

In the case of a personal injury claim, a person has anywhere from one to six years to file and complete their claim, depending on the state they are in. For separate property damage claims, the statute is two years. It is important to remember to file as soon as possible. “Waiting too long could put you at risk of losing your right to recover financial compensation forever by missing your filing deadline,” note accident lawyers at Vanguard Attorneys, “the clock will typically start ticking on the date that your accident occurred.”

If you miss filing any paperwork and the statute passes, you are typically barred from filing a claim. There are extensions and certain circumstances where a claim may still be accepted, but a great deal of work is often necessary to prove why you missed the deadline and it can still negatively impact your case, such as lowering the amount of compensation you may be eligible to recover.

What Should I Do to Avoid Missing the Deadline?

The first thing to understand is that the statute of limitations starts the moment your accident happens. Depending on the extent of your injuries and how long it takes you to recover this could leave you with not a lot of time to file your case.

To avoid missing the filing deadline for your claim and gathering all the paperwork, forms, and other information you need, the best thing to do is hire an attorney. While you are focusing on your recovery, they will be doing whatever it takes to build your case and make sure the deadlines are met and everything is filed properly.

An experienced attorney knows the statute of limitations works in your area and what forms to fill out and what papers to file to make sure that your claim stays viable. A lawyer will build your case in order to help you get maximum compensation for the injuries you have sustained.

It’s also important to have a legal advocate in case anything changes while your case is proceeding. Changes to claim can include increasing severity of your injuries or finding new evidence that implicates a different party. Though rare, these things can happen and it may change the way your case progresses.

Don’t Wait to Take Action

Following the statute of limitations for your car collision case could make the difference in securing financial compensation. The best way to avoid problems is to get started on your case right away and hire a legal professional. After a crash, focus on your recovery and not deadline; consider hiring an experienced attorney.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.