How Long After a Car Accident Can You Make a Claim?

After a car accident, not every driver is emotionally equipped to immediately start thinking about the legal process. Especially in serious car crashes, initial treatment of injuries and adjustment time are necessary parts of the healing process that an individual shouldn’t ignore. However, some drivers may worry that the amount of time it takes to address the incident after it occurs could prevent a smooth and successful claims process.

Insurance Policies on Filing Claims

The length of time that an insurance company grants a driver to report their accident depends solely on the insurance company’s policies. Most do not provide a set timeframe for reporting an accident and instead ask their clients to report it within a reasonable amount of time. This might include the amount of time it takes to mentally and physically recover from the initial accident. For instance, a driver who requires immediate surgery is not expected to file a claim in their hospital room.

This ambiguous timeframe changes based on the “no-fault” status of the state that the accident took place in. No-fault states, and their respective car insurance companies, require the driver to file their claim within 30 days of the incident. If the driver cannot fulfill this, they must provide evidence as to why they needed more time. If the evidence provided is not substantial, the claim will not be processed.

What Is a Reasonable Amount of Time?

Insurance companies pose time limits on claim submissions because they need to investigate your claim in a time period that is still relevant. If no reasonable cause for the delay exists in filing, the insurance company is reluctant to entertain your claim. For example, if your car was sideswiped and only minor damage was done, the expectation is to file right away, as nothing is otherwise preventing you from doing so. There was no injury or external factors inhibiting you from filing the claim within the first several days after the incident. Insurance companies are less likely to process your claim if you wait longer, claiming that their ability to accurately assess damage has been compromised,

Will the Delay Impact My Claim?

The answer to this question is totally dependent on the volume and quality of the evidence you provide to the insurance company. They can only deny your claim if the delay in filing truly impacted the company’s ability to assess the situation. If you present an open-and-shut case, for example with all evidence of damages incurred and even contact info from the party that damaged your car, the insurance company’s ability to assess the incident is still viable. However, not all insurance companies are so kind. Past a certain point, a delay in filing could be used as evidence that you have violated your policy to responsibly report any incidents your vehicle is involved in.

When Should I File a Personal Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim is a separate claim on top of your car insurance claim. This is an option for those who wish to sue the other driver involved in the accident for personal damage, which includes factors like emotional distress and pain. Personal injury claims filed in court are not as strict as claims filed with car insurance companies. The general timeframe for filing all paperwork in the court is two years, requiring the claimant to file all forms and evidence by this time. Although a driver has two years to file their claim with the court, it is wise to obtain all evidence and documentation of the incident around the time it occurred.

Although circumstances surrounding every car accident are variable, drivers should work to submit their claims as soon as they can. Dragging out the claims process with your car insurance company is not wise and can result in the denial of your case altogether. Keep in mind the general rules of car accident filing and timing that insurance companies play by to prevent your claim from being dismissed.

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