As an accident victim who sustains injuries unexpectedly, you may want to file a claim for your injury, but you might not be sure of what the best timing is to do so. While you don’t have to file a claim immediately following an injury, knowing the time limits for claiming injuries can help you keep your right to compensation and give you a better insight into the laws governing personal injury claims and lawsuits.
The best way to get an exact answer as to the timeframe you have to take action after your injury is to contact a car accident attorney in your state. Each state has different laws that dictate the time limitations for these actions, and they can vary greatly from one jurisdiction to another.
The Statute of Limitations in Accident Cases
A statute of limitations is the exact timeline a potential plaintiff in a civil lawsuit for damages in an accident case has to officially file a claim with the court. Statutes of limitations are not the same in every state, and it is crucial to find out what the statute of limitations is where your injuries occur. While a statute of limitations could be four years or more for personal injury matters in one state, in a neighboring state, the limits for filing a claim could be as little as one year.
This is a drastic difference, and failing to file a claim within the statute of limitations is often disastrous for a personal injury victim. When a court recognizes that a claimant is outside the limitations allowable by the statute in a state, the victim will then be unable to continue their lawsuit against the parties potentially responsible. This will, in effect, eliminate any possible way for a victim to seek compensation for their losses.
A court will allow few exceptions after plaintiffs failed to file a case in time. Speak to a personal injury attorney about your case and when your accident occurred to determine how much time you have left to claim damages for any injuries.
Should You Wait After an Accident to Seek Compensation?
It is not unusual for an accident victim to feel apprehensive about filing a claim for their losses. However, there is no reason to wait to seek compensation. You should not take a wait-and-see approach regarding your injuries and possible damages.
If you suffer an injury because of another party’s negligence, you have the right to pursue damages regardless of the severity of your injuries. However, you do not need to know if and when you will recover to file a claim, as that will become a part of the case and calculation of your damages.
Waiting has no benefit and can have an unintended negative impact on your claim or case by making it more difficult to prove who is to blame and the level of your damages and losses. For example, if you suffer an injury in any kind of accident due to negligence, you should get immediate medical attention and contact a lawyer for assistance with your case.
In What Circumstances Might a Victim Not File a Claim Soon After an Accident?
A victim may not file a claim immediately following an accident when they don’t know about their injuries. While it is rare, a victim can be part of an accident, and they believe they have no injuries.
After some time, the victim may discover pain and discomfort, which leads them to seek medical care. At that point, the victim may realize they suffered an injury in the prior accident.
Unfortunately, a delay in reporting an incident can create problems. For example, although you may seek compensation for accident injury damages, nobody can guarantee you will recover it, and delayed injury reports insurers could draw scrutiny from the insurers or the courts.
The best way to avoid this situation is to always seek a medical evaluation following an accident, even if you may initially feel as though you have no injuries. There are different injuries that can develop slowly but which an evaluating doctor may catch in its early stages following an accident.
Why Do You Need Time to Prepare a Claim for Damages or Lawsuit?
The most pressing matter following an injury-causing accident is determining who is at fault and the claim’s value in terms of monetary compensation. When an attorney accepts a client’s case, the action does not happen in a matter of hours. Your lawyer will need time to investigate and prepare to file a claim properly.
This process takes time to build evidence and follow through on each necessary step. The sooner you take action following an accident injury, the more time you give your attorney to establish your case and be as prepared as possible when bringing the claim to an insurance company or the suit to a court.
How Soon After an Accident Where You Suffer an Injury Should You Call a Lawyer?
If you suffer an injury in an accident, your most immediate concern and first communication should be to get the medical attention you need. However, once the dust settles and you receive the medical care necessary to stabilize your injuries, you should begin to consider your claim for damages against the parties responsible.
Once you feel up for it and can communicate comfortably about the accident, you should call a lawyer to discuss your case. It is never too early to call a personal injury attorney for help with a negligent accident claim. However, you can wait too long. To avoid losing your right to seek compensation, call a lawyer as soon as possible following an accident causing you harm.
In What Ways Can a Lawyer Help You If You Are an Accident Victim?
Recognizing why you should hire a lawyer can help you to understand the benefits that a lawyer can provide. Having a lawyer versus not having one can greatly impact your claim or case after an accident.
Personal injury lawyers have experience with helping clients daily to fight for their rights against insurers and other parties involved in an accident. When you incur injuries and damages after an accident through no fault of your own, a lawyer can help you seek the maximum compensation possible against the parties liable or responsible for the harm to you.
A lawyer’s role includes a wide range of responsibilities in preparing and filing a claim or lawsuit.
Investigate the Cause of the Accident and Your Injuries
A personal injury lawyer has a variety of resources that can assist them in investigating the accident that led to your injuries thoroughly. During this investigation, the lawyer can look carefully into the cause of the accident and your resulting injuries.
While an insurance company can also launch an investigation into an accident, they may not always have access to or be aware of all the evidence available.
Track Down Supporting Evidence for Your Claim
As part of the investigation into the accident, your lawyer will also collect any evidence that they discover, which can assist in proving the fault for the accident, your injuries, and the extent of your injuries. Furthermore, a lawyer can help you retrieve records, footage, and statements that can help you prove liability and damages for your claim or lawsuit.
Determine Who is Liable to You
The parties that are potentially liable for injuries and damages from an accident are not always the parties directly present at the time of the incident. Liability for accidents can involve multiple parties. Doctrines such as vicarious liability can make an employer liable for the actions of their workers in some circumstances.
For example, if you suffer an injury due to the actions of one party, but another party may have had a hand in the events leading to your injuries, they could also be liable for your damages.
A personal injury lawyer representing you can look at all parties to the accident and any special relationships that may exist which could possibly transfer part or all of the liability for your damages. This is particularly helpful in situations in which a defendant may not personally have the means to cover all of your damages, but another liable party does.
Calculate the Maximum Compensation for Your Damages
Determining damages can seem easy enough to you as a personal injury accident victim. However, getting the calculation of damages right is crucial, and any mistakes could result in less compensation available to you in a settlement or verdict for your case.
A personal injury attorney can work with you to ensure that the claim you file for your losses accounts for the maximum damages you are eligible for. Damage calculations can consider any past, current and future losses that relate to your injuries and the effects of those injuries on your life.
Compensatory damages in an accident claim or case can include medical expenses, income losses, pain and suffering, property damage, and certain other economic and non-economic losses to you.
Negotiate for a Potential Settlement
Once your attorney gathers all the evidence, they can then negotiate with an insurer on your behalf. You will not need to worry about speaking to the insurer or any other parties to the case, for that matter. Your lawyer and their staff will handle all communications with insurance companies, at-fault parties, and medical billing companies seeking payment for injury-related services.
Settlement negotiations often succeed in accident cases involving negligence. Most cases successfully settle out of court and do not require a trial or verdict. An attorney working for you will negotiate on your behalf and keep you involved and notified about developments and all offers available for your consideration.
Prepare for a Trial if Necessary
Although most cases end in settlement, it is not all. For that reason, a personal injury attorney will treat each claim as a potential lawsuit. If it comes to pass that your claim for damages is not successful in the insurance claim process, you may be able to file a lawsuit under the advice of your attorney. While going to trial may not be what a plaintiff wants, when it does occur, it is often due to the necessity to fight for your best interests.
What Can Happen if You Wait Too Long to Claim an Injury After an Accident?
The worse thing that could happen if you wait too long to seek compensation for your accident damages is to go beyond the statute of limitations and a court stops your efforts as per the legal time limits. However, the statute of limitations is not the only detriment to waiting to file a claim.
As more time passes, evidence can get harder to track down, memories begin to fade or falter, and questions can arise regarding the veracity of your injuries and losses or why it took so long for you to come forward.
Contact an attorney as soon as you can after suffering an injury due to negligence. The sooner you call a lawyer to represent you, the quicker you can begin working towards a resolution that helps you move forward after a personal injury accident.