How long after a car accident can you claim injury?

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How long after a car accident can you claim injury?

Were you injured in a car crash due to another’s fault? You might wonder, “How long after a car accident can you claim injury?” Knowing your rights can be critical for recovering the settlement you need to move forward after a car accident. If you file a lawsuit too late, you could lose the right to compensation. On the other hand, if you file too soon, you might leave money on the table.

In most states, you can file a personal injury claim up to two years from the accident date. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, so it’s essential to understand the laws in your state.

Morgan & Morgan is here to help you navigate the complexities of injury law. We can assess your accident and identify the best timing for your injury claim. Get started now and contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.

The Statute of Limitations Determines How Long You Can Sue

How long after a car accident you can claim injury depends on your state’s statute of limitations. The statute determines when you must file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or another responsible party.

Each jurisdiction has its statute of limitations for car accident injury claims ranging from one to six years. For example, in California, the statute is two years, while in New York, it is three years. In contrast, injured individuals in Tennessee generally only have one short year to file a personal injury claim.

If you fail to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you could lose your right to seek compensation, and your claim may be dismissed even if you have a strong case.

Insurance Claims

In addition to the statute of limitations, there may be other deadlines and requirements that you must meet to pursue a car accident injury claim. For example, in some states, the injured person must notify the at-fault driver’s insurance company of the accident within a certain time, or their claim may be denied.

Moreover, if your settlement negotiations with the at-fault party and their insurer go on indefinitely and your statute of limitation runs out, you could lose the right to sue. Therefore, you should settle a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company before the statute of limitations expires.

Knowing how long after a car accident you can claim injury is a legal minefield and can depend on various factors. Don’t risk losing out on the settlement you deserve, and get a seasoned car accident lawyer into your corner, especially if you suffer severe injuries.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

How long after a car accident you can claim injury can depend on the circumstances of your accident and your specific situation. Sometimes, the statute of limitations is paused (“tolled”), meaning the clock stops ticking, and injured car accident victims may have additional time to file a lawsuit. Tolling the statute of limitations can prevent unfair outcomes where a victim is barred from filing a claim due to circumstances beyond their control. Here are some exceptions that could lead to a tolling of the statute:

Discovery of Harm

In some cases, car accident victims don’t discover the full extent of their injury months or even years after the crash. In such cases, the statute of limitations clock may begin ticking only after discovering the injury, rather than on the accident date.

Minority or Incapacity

If you were a minor during the crash, the statute might be paused until you turn 18. The statute may also be extended for those who were incapacitated and could not file a lawsuit sooner, for example, due to a brain injury.

Fraud or Concealment

If the party responsible for the accident committed fraud or concealed information that prevented you from suing during the regular statute of limitations, you might have more time to file a claim.


If the defendant fled the state or the country and if you could not sue them during the ordinary statute of limitations, the time limit may be extended.

While there are several circumstances that may allow a car accident victim additional time to file suit, it is best not to assume that the statute is tolled in your case. Make sure you consult with a car accident lawyer to assess your options. Missing the deadline could prevent you from seeking compensation for your injuries.

Why You Shouldn’t File a Lawsuit Too Soon

The exact timing of your lawsuit can depend on the nature of your injuries, the statute of limitation in your state, and other factors of your car accident. For example, if you were severely injured in the accident and are in the middle of recovery, waiting to file your lawsuit can be essential for receiving the entire worth of your claim. You may need extra time to assess the following:

  • Which medical treatments you require to recover
  • How much time you need off work
  • The extent of your future medical expenses
  • How the injury affects your home life and career
  • Whether the injury permanently impacts your life quality

Once you fully recover or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), your medical providers can assess your future treatments and rehabilitation needs. Understanding your injuries and damages fully will also put you in a better negotiating position and make you less likely to accept a lowball settlement offer from an insurance company.

However, while waiting until you are fully recovered before pursuing legal action can be advantageous, consult an attorney as soon as possible. Morgan & Morgan can prevent you from missing crucial deadlines.

Car Accident Injury Claims Against the Government

How long after a car accident you can claim injury can also depend on whether your defendant is a government agency. You could have a claim against the government if your accident occurred due to the following circumstances:

  • Failure to maintain the road
  • Negligent road design, such as sharp curves or lack of guardrails
  • Failure to respond to a known hazard, such as objects in the road
  • Defective government vehicle

The timeline is typically much shorter for injury claims against the government than for lawsuits against private individuals or businesses. Moreover, you usually must follow special procedures when suing the government, such as filing a notice of your claim. The statute of limitations for claims against the government can also be shorter. In some states, you only have six months to file a lawsuit against the government.

If you have been involved in a car accident and believe you have a case against a government entity, promptly consult with an attorney familiar with your state’s laws. Morgan & Morgan’s car accident lawyers can handle the complex process of pursuing compensation from a government entity from start to finish.

Seek Medical Attention After Your Car Accident

You may have several years to file a lawsuit and claim compensation for your injuries. However, to have the best chance of recovering what you deserve, you must seek medical help promptly after a car crash, even if you don’t feel like you’ve been seriously injured.

Some injuries may not show symptoms immediately, and delaying treatment could complicate any legal claims you may want to pursue later. Moreover, proving that you suffered injuries in a car accident-related can be challenging if you seek medical advice months or years after your crash. The other side may argue that your injuries are unrelated to the collision, and you could face an uphill struggle getting the compensation you deserve.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • Why File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

    You may not need to file a personal injury lawsuit if you can recover a fair settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company. However, insurers are typically more interested in their profits than adequately compensating victims. Some insurance companies refuse, delay, or reduce valid claims, leaving injured individuals with little choice but to initiate legal action to recover what they need and deserve.

    Sometimes, drawn-out settlement negotiations take victims perilously close to their state’s statute of limitations deadline. The insurance companies know very well how long after a car accident you can claim injury and that getting what you deserve in court is next to impossible once the statute has passed.

    If an insurer gives you the run-around, contact our attorneys immediately and consider filing a lawsuit before the statute runs out. This way, you can keep your options open and retain leverage in negotiations. Knowing you have filed legal action could also motivate an insurance company to settle and treat you fairly.

  • What Are the Consequences of Waiting Too Long to File an Injury Claim?

    We have already discussed that you may lose the right to recover compensation if the statute of limitations runs out and if you wait too long to file a car accident injury claim. However, waiting to take action if you are injured in a crash can also have other disadvantages, even if you file within your state’s statute of limitations, such as:

    Memories fade – If you decide to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party or insurer years after a crash, you or your witnesses may no longer remember the critical facts of the accident.

    Medical records – Waiting too long to file a claim may make it harder to obtain the vital medical records and documentation proving your case. This could negatively affect the amount of compensation you can recover.

    Evidence may disappear – Witnesses may have moved away, and critical evidence, such as dashcam or traffic camera footage, may be deleted or lost, making it harder to prove your claim.

    Financial hardship – If you are severely injured, you most likely seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other injury-related expenses. The longer you wait to file a claim, the longer you may have to endure financial hardship.

    While you may not want to file a personal injury claim immediately after an accident, seeking medical advice, gathering evidence, and contacting a seasoned personal injury lawyer promptly after getting hurt can increase your chances of recovering fair and timely compensation.

  • What if the Statute of Limitations for an Injury Claim in My State Is Expired?

    If the statute of limitations for filing an injury claim has expired in your state, it generally means that the legal deadline for filing a lawsuit has passed. In most cases, you will no longer be able to bring a claim or seek compensation for your car accident injuries. However, since there can be exceptions to this rule, consider contacting Morgan & Morgan immediately to discuss your case. You may still be able to sue. However, the longer you wait to speak to an attorney, the less likely your lawsuit will be heard in court.

  • Morgan & Morgan Fights for Your Rights

    How long after a car accident you can claim injury depends on your individual case and where you live. However, leaving it too late may mean that you will never be able to recover the compensation you need to get your life back on track. Therefore, if you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car crash, don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to discover your legal options.

    Morgan & Morgan is here to help. We understand that the aftermath of a car accident can be exhausting and that you have a lot on your plate. Let us take some of the burdens off your shoulders and handle the legal aspects of your claim so you can concentrate on your well-being. You pay no attorney’s fees unless and until we win. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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