How Much Time do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim?
If you’ve been in a car accident, then you’ve got a lot of company. A report by Esurance found that 77 percent of U.S. drivers have been in at least one accident. An estimated 4.8 million people were seriously injured in vehicle collisions in 2020, according to the National Safety Council. So it’s no surprise that thousands of car accident claims are filed every day in the U.S.
When you experience a car crash, filing a claim may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But if you or others were injured, and/or there was damage done to your vehicle, and/or the other party’s automobile, you should seek legal representation as soon as possible. Equally as important, you will want to know when you are required to file a claim for this accident.
An experienced auto accident lawyer will be by your side and be on top of legal deadlines that include when you must file a car accident claim. A skilled personal injury lawyer will also tell you what options you have as you pursue your legal case.
Statute of Limitations – Filing Your Claim
In Washington State, you have up to three years – from the date of your accident – to file a car accident claim. This three-year statute applies to collisions that resulted in bodily injury and involved property damage.
You can look to the advice of your attorney when deciding when the best time is to file your car accident claim. There is not a statute of limitation for filing an insurance claim after your car accident. However, most insurance companies prefer you file as soon as possible.
It is unlikely that your insurance company will impose a time limit for when you submit your accident insurance claim. They normally allow some flexibility for claim submission, knowing that certain injuries or property damage may not be clear a short time after an accident.
It is best to inquire with your insurance carrier to find out what they require for filing your claim with them.
Filing an Accident Report in Washington State
What you may not be aware of is that Washington State mandates you submit a Motor Vehicle Collision Report if there is $1,000 or more of damage to any one unit and/or injury to any person. This is necessary even for minor accidents.
Also required in Washington State is to report a car accident within four days. If law enforcement comes to the scene of your collision, they will typically file a report.
When it comes to reporting your car accident, your insurance company may require that it be done within 24 to 48 hours of the incident. Being informed of your insurance policy will help ensure you won’t be surprised about this important deadline.
Filing an Accident Claim with Your Insurance Company
Most insurance companies mandate that you file a car accident claim “within a reasonable time.” Examine your insurance policy to see if it includes a particular time frame for submitting the claim.
If you postpone filing a car accident claim, your insurance carrier could deny the claim because it is difficult to assess the damages and determine the specific harm that the collision caused.
If you delay for too long, an insurer could deny your claim due to the difficulty of evaluating the damages and determining the harm that the accident caused. For your insurance company to reject your claim because of delay, the insurer would have to prove that the time that elapsed prejudiced their claim or harmed them in some manner.
When the insurance company deadlines apply, these are not the same as time constraints for filing a car accident lawsuit. State statute of limitations apply to determine when a lawsuit has to be filed. A lawsuit claim will be time-barred or not permitted to proceed if you are outside of the three-year statute of limitations in Washington State.
Importance of Starting Your Car Accident Claim Sooner Than Later
Despite the fact that you have three years to file a car accident claim, it is advised that you proceed with your case as soon as possible.
These are some of the benefits of going forward with your claim in a timely manner:
- Information from the car accident will be fresh in the minds of witnesses
- It will be easier for you to prove the damage that resulted from the collision
- It’s easier to gather evidence
- You’ll be able to clearly recall the details of the car accident
Look to Roberts Jones Law to Help You Reach a Favorable Settlement for Your Auto Accident Case
If you’ve been in a car accident, we encourage you to hire us as your legal representative so we can protect your rights and achieve a favorable settlement for you.
We will not rest until you obtain the maximum recovery possible, including reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages and money damages for your pain and suffering.
At Roberts Jones Law, our attorneys are with you every step of the way. We meet with you from the very first consultation and will be the same attorneys with you in the event that your case goes to trial.
Be assured, Roberts Jones Law is on your team and will be your advocate, not that of the insurance companies.
We invite you to contact Roberts Jones Law for a free consultation today.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice.