No one plans to have a car accident, and there’s never a convenient time for it to happen. Regardless of who’s at fault, all accidents involving more than one party should be reported to your insurance company, and the sooner, the better.
But how long do you have to report an accident? We’ll answer this question below and provide more details about best practices that can protect you legally while helping to ensure that you’re eligible for compensation and damages if the other party was at fault.
DO YOU HAVE TO REPORT A CAR ACCIDENT?
The short answer to this question is “it depends.” There may be some cases where it’s not necessary to report a car accident to your insurance company. For example, if you have a small fender bender with a beam or post in a parking garage and your vehicle sustains minimal damage, the cost to repair it may be on par with the amount of your deductible. In that case, it might make more sense to cover the repair yourself and avoid filing a claim that could potentially raise your insurance premiums.
An exception to this rule is if you caused damage to another person’s property, such as a parking garage. You would need to contact the garage owner and then file a claim with your insurance company.
Another possible scenario is a small fender bender with another party. Perhaps you rear-ended someone at a stop light because you looked down for a brief moment and didn’t realize the person in front of you had stopped. The person in front of you might have a minor scratch on their bumper, and you could have a small dent. You might be tempted to simply exchange information with the other party and offer to pay damages, but it’s crucial to remember that you should never admit fault when there is another party involved.
Instead, exchange information with the other person and file a claim with your insurance company. Even though the collision occurred at a slow speed, the other driver or passengers could have experienced whiplash or another injury. By contacting your insurance company right away and reporting the incident, you’ll be protected from personal liability.
WHEN TO INVOLVE THE POLICE IN AN ACCIDENT.
While you should report most car accidents to your insurance company, not all accidents in Arizona need to be reported to the police. Law enforcement is required to file a written accident report within 24 hours in any of the following circumstances:
- There is a death or injury
- Property damage exceeds $1,000
- Any citations were issued
WHAT IS THE ARIZONA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR ACCIDENTS?
The statute of limitations refers to the maximum amount of time someone has to initiate legal proceedings. In the case of a car accident, the statute of limitations would set a time limit for how long you could sue the other party after the incident occurred.
In Arizona, the statute of limitations for car accidents is two years. The clock starts ticking on the date of the incident. If you try to file a lawsuit after this time, the courts are likely to refuse the case. This is why it’s imperative to gather the facts and take action right away, especially if an injury doesn’t manifest itself for weeks after the incident.
While the statute of limitations refers to accidents that involve a court case, you must report your collision to your insurance company within a set period. Each insurance provider has a different rule, so check your policy or contact your agent to make sure you are in compliance.
HOW COMMON ARE CAR ACCIDENT LAWSUITS?
When it comes to car accidents, lawsuits are more of an exception. However, they can be a necessity if the other insurance company fails to provide you with adequate compensation for your damages. This could be a result of your insurance provider not being able to negotiate strongly enough on your behalf, or the at-fault party might not have enough coverage to pay for all of the damages.
In cases like these, you may need to file a civil lawsuit to receive the amount you feel is due. An experienced accident attorney can help determine this amount and represent you in court.
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.