You’re minding your own business when a careless motorist backs into your car in a parking lot. Perhaps they beg you not to make a claim so that their rates won’t increase and promise to make regular payments to cover the damage to your vehicle, and you agree. But a few months later, they’re not honoring their side of the agreement. Can you still file a claim?
The answer? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on your insurer and the state laws surrounding these time limits in your particular state. Typically, however, claims for personal injuries have a two-year time limit, and property damage claims have a three-year time limit, also known as a statute of limitations. While you don’t need to have your claim concluded or resolved within the statute of limitations, you must have (at least) filed it in court during this period.
When Does the Clock Start?
The clock on your statute of limitations usually starts ticking on the day of the accident and ends on a precisely defined future date. These time limits can vary from state to state. Personal injury and property damage claims are usually subject to separate statutes of limitations, and you’d be wise to look these limits up on the day of the accident, or better yet, consult with an attorney because the dates will play a significant role in your negotiations.
Also, bear in mind that the limit will likely be different (and probably much shorter) if you were injured by a local, state, or federal government employee. There’s also a different filing procedure in a case against a government employee and/or entity.
Give Yourself Enough Time
To “stop the clock” on your claim’s statute of limitations, you need to have a lawsuit filed. Once the lawsuit is filed with the court, you’ll have additional time to resolve the claim. Remember that you should file your personal injury claims and property claims in the same lawsuit—so, in practice, you are limited to the shorter of the two statutes of limitations.
What Will Happen If You Miss The Deadline?
If a claim is not made with the statute of limitations period, the claim will be rejected by the court. This is true even if you are only a day late.
The reason the courts are so insistent on following these limits is the reality of resolving a claim after a significant period of time has passed: memories have faded, records are misplaced, etc. There are some exceptions to the statutes of limitations on claims, but they are complex and cannot be relied upon.
Why You Should Seek Legal Assistance with Car Accident Insurance Claims
Even if you are confident that your claim will be easily resolved, it’s essential to have an experienced car accident attorney on your side. Negotiations don’t always work out predictably, and insurance companies may use their own legal counsel to avoid paying.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact us. At the Folger Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping our clients seek the compensation they deserve.
We work on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay fees unless we recover for you.