You might be entitled to compensation if a car accident happens. This could come from either your own insurance provider or the provider of the driver who caused the collision.
However, there are some guidelines you need to be aware of. One of the most important questions to address is how soon after an accident can a claim be filed. This manual will give you information on when to file a claim for compensation following a collision.
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Filing a Lawsuit vs. Making an Insurance Claim
Whether you choose to file a lawsuit or make a claim with your insurance company after an accident, the deadlines can change.
The resolution of many auto accident cases involves filing an insurance claim. This could be a claim made to your own insurance or the insurance of the driver who was at fault. The insurance company will look at the damage and make a settlement offer that they think is fair based on how bad the damage is. If you agree, the dispute is settled.
A car accident lawsuit might be required if there is disagreement over who was at fault for the collision or if the accident victim doesn’t think the at-fault driver’s insurance is providing them with a fair amount of compensation.
After an auto accident, it’s important to know the rules for filing insurance claims and lawsuits so you don’t miss the deadline.
How long you have to notify your insurance company of an accident
Individual insurance companies may set requirements for when you must submit a claim in the majority of states. Many businesses instead mandate that you file your claim “within a reasonable time” or “promptly,” as opposed to setting a specific deadline, like 30 or 60 days. You should, however, always review your policy to see if a specific timeframe is specified.
The difficulty of evaluating the damages and identifying the precise harm the collision caused may lead an insurer to reject the claim if you wait too long to file. To reject your claim due to a delay, however, the insurer would have to demonstrate that the passing of time adversely affected your claim or caused the insurer some sort of harm.
When you must submit a claim to an insurer is set forth by law in some states. For instance, no-fault laws are in effect in New York, so regardless of who caused the collision, you must seek compensation from your own insurance company for minor accidents. You must submit written notice of your claim under New York law within 30 days of the accident date.
You must abide by the restrictions if your state has them. If not, you might not be able to continue with your case.
When you have to file a lawsuit about a car accident is different from when you have to file a claim with your insurance company. The state’s statute of limitations governs the deadline for bringing a lawsuit. If the statute of limitations has passed, your claim will be time-barred, and you won’t be able to move forward with your lawsuit.
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Period of Limitation
You should carefully research how long after an accident you can file a claim if you intend to sue because you don’t think you’ll receive fair compensation through an insurance claim. The statute of limitations for claims of personal injury and property damage varies by state.
These statutes of limitations are in place because it can be too challenging to evaluate the case’s facts after an excessive amount of time has passed, and because it isn’t considered fair for people to live in constant fear of lawsuits arising from accidents that happened years ago.
For personal injury claims, the statute of limitations can be as short as one year in Tennessee and Louisiana and as long as six years in Maine and North Dakota. Many states fall between the two extremes, with the average case-filing deadline being two to four years.
Why You Should File an Insurance Claim Right Away
It’s a good idea to proceed with your case as soon as possible, regardless of how long you have to file a claim. Here are some of the main advantages of filing a claim as soon as possible.
- It’s simpler to gather proof.
- Witnesses will remember the details clearly.
- Your memory of the crash’s specifics will be improved.
- You’ll be more able to demonstrate how the collision caused damage.
Effects of Postponing Your Claim
While filing as soon as possible after a collision is wise, waiting can have unfavorable effects whether you’re suing or filing a claim with your insurer.
If you wait, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit may have already passed, or your insurer may reject your claim because you waited too long and can no longer prove the harm the collision caused. But keep in mind that your insurer can only refuse a claim because of a delay if state law establishes a deadline for filing a claim or if the delay caused harm to them or prejudiced the case.
Who to File a Claim With
You must decide who to file a claim against in advance in order to file your case as soon as possible. The answer may vary depending on your state, who was at fault for the collision, and the extent of the injuries and property damage that resulted.
Third Party Insurance vs. Your Insurance
In most cases, if the collision was your fault and you need to get paid for property damage, you will file a claim with your own insurer. If you were hurt in a collision, you can also make a claim with your own insurer if you have medical payments coverage.
However, if another driver was at fault for the collision, you will file a third-party claim with their insurance company. The insurance company for the driver who was at fault will pay damages to your property, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even emotional distress. You can file a third-party claim either directly with the other driver’s insurance company or with the assistance of your insurance company.
Some drivers who cause collisions either have inadequate insurance or no coverage at all. In these situations, you might want to file a claim with your own insurance company to get money from your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Here, the at-fault driver’s insurance company would act in their place and compensate you with the money that the other driver was legally obligated to give.
States with and without fault
Knowing whether your state is a fault state or a no-fault state is also important when deciding how to file a claim.
If your state has no-fault insurance, regardless of who was at fault for the accident, all claims for more minor injuries will go through your own insurer. Personal Injury Protection (PIP), a type of no-fault insurance, typically covers medical expenses and lost wages up to a predetermined dollar amount, such as $10,000. For PIP, some states have minimum coverage standards.
However, in at-fault states, you must file a third party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance to be compensated for injuries even in less serious collisions.
If you reside in one of the following states and are hurt in a collision, you may contact your own insurer as they are either choice no-fault states or no-fault states.
- Jersey, New
- A new York
- Dakotas, North
How to Make a Claim with Your Insurance
Take the following actions to submit your car accident claim:
To avoid waiting too long, find out how long you have to file a claim after an accident. Speak to your insurance provider or the insurer of the negligent driver. In some states, even if you are making a third-party claim, your insurer may be able to assist you.
On your behalf, your insurer may pursue payment from the other insurance provider. Give the insurer a police report, witness statements, and other supporting documentation. Hopefully, this data was gathered at the crash site.
Speak with an adjuster for insurance. The extent of the damage is determined by adjusters who are assigned to the claim by the insurer. The adjuster will get in touch with you to find out more about the collision, inspect your car, or ask you to take it to a licensed repair facility for an evaluation of the damages. Additionally, the adjuster might request copies of the patient’s medical records and injury evaluations.
Await the adjuster’s report and the insurer’s settlement proposal: You can choose whether to accept the at-fault driver’s insurance company’s settlement offer or your insurer will estimate the losses you are entitled to compensation for.
Do I have to accept the insurance company’s offer?
You can choose to accept the settlement the insurer offers or to proceed with filing a lawsuit in an effort to seek out additional damages. If you don’t think you’ve been offered a fair amount of compensation, hiring a car accident lawyer can be beneficial because they can either help you file an injury claim or negotiate a better settlement on your behalf.
Do I need legal representation to make a claim?
Although it is not necessary for you to have legal representation, a lawyer can be very beneficial when assessing an insurance settlement. Your lawyer can help you get the best result for your case if you decide to file a lawsuit.
When is it wise to delay submitting a claim?
Some injuries from car accidents aren’t obvious right away, and it may take days or weeks to figure out what’s wrong. As long as you file soon after the accident and it is within a reasonable time or your state’s time limit for filing claims, it might make sense to wait and see what happens.