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​How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

All drivers should have a basic idea of what to do after a car accident. They know to exchange information with all drivers and seek medical attention for their injuries. They begin to follow their doctor’s treatment orders and focus on physical recovery.

What few drivers decide to do is seek legal help right away regarding a possible injury claim after their car accident. For whatever reason, drivers might put this aspect of the situation off, thinking they have enough on their plates for the time being.

However, you do not have unlimited time to claim injury following a car crash. If you have medical expenses and other losses from an accident someone else caused, do not put off seeking a free case evaluation with an experienced car accident lawyer near you.

Injury claims following a car accident

​How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury? Someone with injuries due to someone else’s negligence can file an injury claim against the liable parties. Civil personal injury law allows injury victims to recover compensation from the parties responsible for their accident, though this is not something that happens automatically. Instead, the victim must take affirmative action to start the process of claiming injuries and collecting compensation.

Allowing injury victims to seek compensation for their injuries helps the victims to become whole again. However, there are deadlines for car accident victims to file their claims. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations.


Statutes of limitations

The statute of limitations is a deadline that all personal injury victims must follow. This deadline limits your time to file an injury lawsuit against the negligent party responsible for their accident. The law provides a deadline so that drivers will not have to worry about facing a possible lawsuit for years to come following the incident. It also helps to ensure the quality of the evidence in a lawsuit.

Each state contains a different statute of limitations for car accident victims.

Some examples include:

  • Louisiana = One year
  • Kansas = Two years
  • Colorado = Three years for car accident claims (two years for other personal injuries)
  • Utah = Four years
  • Missouri = Five years
  • North Dakota = Six years

Regardless of the statute of limitations, do not wait until the last minute to file your personal injury claim. Retrieving copies of your documents and other evidence may take longer than you expect. Your lawyer must complete many steps before you reach the lawsuit point, and you want to give them ample time.

Once you miss the statute of limitations, the court can throw out your claim. That means you will not have any opportunities in the future to hold the parties responsible for their accident.

There are only a few occasions where a personal injury claim filed after the statute of limitations may be acceptable. One of those occasions involves incapacitation. If you suffered incapacitation from your car accident, the court might grant you an extension if you have medical evidence proving you were incapacitated. If you did not discover your injuries until later, the clock might not start running until the discovery.

In some states, courts may pause the statute of limitations if you have issues finding the person responsible for your accident. For example, if the person who caused your accident is taking deliberate steps to leave the state or hide, the courts may pause the statute of limitations in your case. The same is true if the liable party engages in fraud to conceal their liability.

Never assume an extension applies to you. Instead, let a lawyer evaluate your situation and determine the deadlines that apply in your case. The sooner you seek legal help, the sooner you know how long you have to claim injury.

Liable parties

One of the factors involves the nature and number of liable parties involved in your claim. If your accident involves only one driver, seeking compensation should be more straightforward. However, the claim process can become more complicated if several drivers or companies share liability for your accident. You might not realize all the liable parties, so you want your car accident attorney to examine this as soon as possible.

Government agencies

Another liable party that many people do not consider in car accident claims is government entities. Just like other drivers, federal employees who operate motor vehicles are capable of causing car accidents. You also might have a car accident due to dangerous roads that the government did not properly maintain or a public school district operating a school bus.

While you have the right to file a car accident claim against a government agency, the process will be more complex for several reasons. One of the main reasons is the shortened deadlines related to government agencies. Unlike other car accident claims where you have at least a year or more to file, you only have around six months to provide notice of your injury to a government agency.

If you suspect a government caused your crash, contact a skilled car accident attorney immediately to begin the claim process.

Filing insurance claims first

The statute of limitations applies to filing a personal injury lawsuit, but you usually pursue an insurance claim process before a lawsuit even arises. After a car crash, your attorney will begin by identifying the insurance policies of liable parties and filing claims directly with these companies. While you might not have a statute of limitations for an insurance claim, you do not want to delay starting this process.

The insurer will undoubtedly know if you are near the statute of limitations when you file an insurance claim. If your chances of filing a lawsuit are decreasing due to the approaching statute of limitations – or you already missed the statute of limitations – it will weaken your position with the insurance company. The insurer will offer nothing if you cannot escalate the matter to court.

Insurance claims take time – from preparation to filing to negotiations. Leave your car accident lawyer plenty of time to handle the insurance claim and still have time to file an injury lawsuit if necessary.

Delaying claims

Even though you should file your claim as soon as possible, there are some legitimate reasons why you might consider delaying your injury claim a bit. However, you should only do so on your lawyer’s advice if your legal strategy benefits from waiting to file.

One aspect of car accident injuries is that they might worsen as time progresses. If your injuries are severe and lasting, you might not know what your maximum recovery might be, whether you might have permanent effects, and what your future medical expenses might be. You might need to wait until you have a complete picture of your future before you demand compensation. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot go back and ask for more, so your lawyer might advise delaying your claim until they know what you deserve.

Seeking compensation for car accident injuries

Filing your car accident claim allows you to receive compensation for your medical bills and other expenses related to your accident. In addition to medical expenses, you can seek compensation for wages you have missed or any pain and suffering you experienced. You can receive compensation for these damages if you file your claim within the designated time frame.

Once you know the deadlines for claiming injuries and begin the process, you might be anxious to receive a check. How long will it take to resolve your claim? Well, that depends on several factors.

Insurance settlements

One factor determining the length of your claim is whether you decide to accept a settlement offer directly from an insurance company or take your claim to trial. Depending on how severe your injuries are, the evidence of liability for the crash, and how quickly you file your claim, it can take a while for you to agree with the insurance company. If your accident involves additional drivers or companies, it can take longer to settle.

Insurance companies can also prolong the settlement process by offering a low settlement amount to you. When you reject a settlement offer, your attorney might need to provide additional evidence to support your damages and enter another round of negotiations. Some claims might settle right away, and others might require many rounds of negotiations to reach a favorable settlement.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit

If you cannot reach a fair settlement with the insurance company, your lawyer can file your injury lawsuit in civil court. Your lawsuit might address liability issues, or if the insurance company concedes liability, the case will address the damages you should receive. In either event, your lawyer must file the lawsuit within the statute of limitation.

Seeking Prompt Legal Advice from a Car Accident Lawyer

When considering an injury claim for your car accident, time is of the essence. You don’t want to wait until the last minute and risk filing past the statute of limitations, but you also don’t want to file too soon and miss out on receiving compensation for potential losses in the future. Always speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your claim happens at the right time.

Experienced car accident lawyers have handled many claims, from those with relatively minor damages to catastrophic injuries. They know that different situations require different strategies. A prompt legal consultation ensures a timely claim that follows the proper path.

Your attorney can help in:

Timely filing

A lawyer can file your claim and ensure that your claim gets filed under the statute of limitations. While consulting with your lawyer, your lawyer can assess your situation and determine whether it makes sense to file your claim as soon as possible or to wait. If it does make sense to file, your lawyer can file your claim for you and start the process. If it does not, your lawyer can still advise you on how to proceed with your claim.

Evaluating your claim

Another way your lawyer can assist is by evaluating the worth of your claim. Your lawyer can assess the damages of your accident and determine the best estimate for your compensation. If your injuries progress after your accident, your lawyer can incorporate new and future losses into your claim. Your lawyer can also suggest other damages you may not have considered in your claim.

Some common damages include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Physical and mental pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death

Many of these losses are difficult to calculate and prove, and your lawyer can handle this part of the claim process.

If your loved one passed away in a car accident, the same suggestions apply regarding seeking legal help immediately. There are statutes of limitations for wrongful death claims, as well, and you do not want to miss them.

Consult a car accident lawyer immediately

After suffering injuries in a car accident, you need compensation to fully cover your injuries. You might want to give yourself time to heal and take a break after a traumatizing event. However, waiting to call a car accident attorney can jeopardize your chances of receiving full compensation – or even any compensation at all.

Understand that a lawyer will take your claim off your shoulders and make your life easier, not harder. The sooner you call, the sooner you can relax and focus on your treatment without worrying about how long you have to claim injuries. Seek a free case evaluation with an attorney today to best protect your rights to compensation for your car accident

Contact a trusted car accident law firm immediately.

Lauren Varner, Personal Injury Attorney

Lauren is a Personal Injury Attorney. She is Colorado native who became involved with the field of personal injury long before she became an attorney. Lauren’s professional philosophy centers around good old fashioned hard work, producing quality work product, and treating others professionally, with dignity and respect at all times.

Awards and as featured on

National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 Included in TOP 40 Under 40 by The National TRIAL Lawyers in Centennial CO Varner Faddis Top Lawyers Denver Badge – 5280 Magazine American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorney Top 40 Under 40 5280 Denver Top Lawyers
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