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How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim?

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If you were in a fender bender and didn’t file a claim, only to find your car was more damaged than you thought or that you had a delayed injury, you may still have time to file an accident claim. Consider your circumstances and talk to your insurance agency to determine what your options are.

Report the Accident Right Away

Regardless of whether you file a claim, you need to report the accident as soon as it happens. Stop at the scene and call the police to make an official report. This will be necessary if you need to file a claim, plus not filing one could result in you being charged with a hit and run. After you report the accident to the police, report it to your insurance company the very same day. This way, they have it on record should you decide you need to file a claim for it once a professional assesses the damage. 

Common Deadlines for Filing a Claim

Deadlines for filing an official insurance claim vary between states, as a car accident lawyer can tell you. In many states, you have up to two years to file a claim for injuries and as long as four years to file for damages to your vehicle. If you were under 18 when the accident happened, some states give you a longer deadline. Because deadlines are not consistent between states, it is very important to verify your deadlines with your insurance company when you sign up for your policy. 

You May Have Less Time Than You Think

Sometimes, special circumstances mean you don’t have nearly as long to file a claim, so consider the source of your accident when deciding how long to wait before filing. For example, in some states, if the accident involved a vehicle owned by the city or county, you’ll only have about six months to file a claim. If the accident involved a state vehicle, you might only have a year to file. The rules get even more complicated if the other vehicle was owned by the federal government.  

Consequences of Filing a Claim Too Late

The biggest consequence to filing your claim too late is being on the hook for all the bills by yourself. This means if you had a repair that cost a thousand dollars, plus had medical bills not covered by your health insurance, you could be in the hole several thousand dollars. Additionally, if you wait to file your claim, even within the deadline, your auto insurance agency may claim that you made things worse by waiting too long to file the claim. It’s also harder to find witnesses to the accident if you wait. 

If you find yourself fighting for what you need from your insurance company, or if the other driver takes you to court, you’ll need an experienced car accident lawyer to help you. Contact a reputable attorney in your area for more information.

Royce Injury Attorneys
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