Motor Vehicle Accidents

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

October 26, 2023
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“How many years after an accident can I claim damages?” If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re not alone. After all, the claims process can be very confusing, especially if you’ve never made a claim before.

Below, our team explains how long you can wait to report an auto accident and file a claim. For personalized advice, call our team now to schedule a free case evaluation.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim arises when you’re injured after someone else’s carelessness, or negligence. In such cases, you can seek compensation for losses such as:

  • Medical costs
  • Rehab costs
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning potential
  • Pain and suffering

But how long after a car accident can you claim injury? Let’s take a look.

Time Limits for Personal Injury Claims

In NY and NJ, you only have so long to claim bodily injury after a car accident. This is due to the “statute of limitations”.

The statute of limitations sets a time limit for making civil (or criminal) claims. If someone doesn’t file a lawsuit within the timeframe, they lose their legal right to seek damages. Or, they lose their right to file criminal charges.

Although time limits may seem restrictive, they actually help by encouraging early filing. This allows you to move on and focus on recovery, rather than dealing with lawsuits for longer than necessary.

Time Limits for NY Car Accident Injury Claims

Various time limits apply if you’re injured in a NY car crash. We can summarize the most critical deadlines as follows.

  • You only have three years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit in NY.
  • If the injured person is under 18, the “clock” doesn’t start running until they turn 18. Meaning, they have three years from their 18th birthday to claim.
  • Sadly, sometimes victims die from their injuries. In such cases, their loved ones have two years from the date of death to file on their behalf. This is known as a wrongful death claim.

On a side note, you have three years from the accident date if you’re claiming property damage. This is for the costs of replacing or repairing the damaged vehicle.

Police car arriving at crash scene at night car overturned debris on road

Time Limits for NJ Car Accident Injury Claims

New Jersey is actually a little stricter than NY when it comes to filing deadlines.

  • You must file an injury claim within two years of the accident date in NJ.
  • An injured minor has two years from their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit.
  • You have two years from a victim’s death to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf.

The easiest way to avoid worrying about filing a claim on time is to get legal advice as soon as possible.

Are There Deadlines for Filing Insurance Claims?

It varies by state. For example, as NY is a no-fault state, you only have 30 days to file a claim with your insurer. If you don’t file by the deadline, your claim may not be covered. This could have serious financial consequences for you, depending on your situation.

In other states, carriers may be free to set their own deadlines. This could be as short as 24 hours, or as long as 30 days. So, always check your auto insurance policy to confirm the time frame.

What Happens if I Don’t File a Lawsuit on Time?

If you don’t file a claim on time, the court could dismiss your case. This means you lose your legal right to claim damages for this accident.

Even if you’re only late by a day or two, you could still lose your right to claim. There are only very limited circumstances when the court will still allow you to proceed. That’s why it’s so important to seek help as soon as possible.

How Long Do Car Accident Claims Take?

It all depends on the facts of the case. For example, a simple claim may settle in a few weeks or months. However, higher value claims and personal injury lawsuits can take longer. And although car accident claims very rarely go to trial, a court case can take a year or two to resolve.

To discuss how to claim bodily injury from a car accident, call our lawyers today.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Do you need a lawyer for a car accident injury claim? Technically, no, but here’s why you should strongly consider hiring a lawyer.

  • There’s a lot of paperwork involved in a civil claim. Without an experienced lawyer on your side, you could miss key deadlines or file documents incorrectly.
  • Insurance adjusters will look for any reason to avoid paying a claim. Your attorney can ensure that you don’t accidentally incriminate yourself or say anything to jeopardize your case.
  • Legal negotiations can be complicated. A car accident attorney knows how to present a compelling case and fight for the damages you deserve.
  • It’s not always easy to know what evidence you need. Your lawyer will determine what’s relevant and how to build the strongest possible case.
  • Sometimes, it’s difficult to identify who to sue. Your attorney will sue every party responsible for your injuries to ensure you get the maximum damages available.

When Can I Hire a Lawyer for a Car Accident Injury Claim?

The “clock” for filing a claim starts ticking the moment an accident occurs. There’s no need to wait before hiring a lawyer. We can get started on your case right away, even if:

  • You don’t know the extent of your injuries yet; and
  • You’re unsure how much the property damage is worth.

Reach out to our friendly team now to discuss your options!

Hire Our Car Accident Attorneys Today

When it comes to personal injury claims, timing matters. But don’t let the legal process overwhelm you. Instead, let our team handle the hard work of filing a claim.

From the moment you reach out to us, we’ll be on your side. We will work to get you the justice you deserve. That’s because, at RF Injury Law, our car accident attorneys care about protecting your rights.

Our team is committed to securing the maximum amount of damages for our clients. And if you can’t come to us, don’t worry. We’ll come to you! No claim is too complex for us to consider.

Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.

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