Maybe your neck is still hurting from that fender bender six months ago. Or the other driver still hasn’t paid to repair the damage to your car. Either way, how long you have to file a claim following a car accident?
Every legal claim has what is known as a statute of limitation, meaning if don’t file your lawsuit within a certain amount of time, you will lose the right to sue forever. These time limits vary depending on jurisdiction and the type of claim involved, so let’s take a look at the statute of limitations for car accident claims.
State (of) Your Case
Each state has statutes of limitation that cover civil lawsuits. The majority of states set the limit at two or three years. Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee have the shortest statutes, limiting the time of filing to one year. Meanwhile Maine and North Dakota allow six years from the time of injury to file a claim.
You should be aware, however, that injury claims against federal, state, or local government agencies or employees have their own specific time restraints.
Select Your Claim
Statutes of limitation can also vary depending on the type of claim involved. For example, a straight injury claim might fall into the one-to-six-year range, while the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim based on improper medical treatment of accident injuries may be shorter.
Start the Clock
Know that we know how long we have, how do we know when the clock starts ticking on our car accident claim? While the start date may vary, most states adhere to what is called the “discovery of harm” rule. This means the statutory clock will start when the injured person knows or reasonably should know that they have been injured and the nature of the injury.
If you think it may be too late to file your car accident claim, you may want to consult with an experienced injury attorney first.
- Injured in a car accident? Get your claim reviewed by an attorney for free. (Consumer Injury) Checklist: Preparing to Meet with your Attorney after a Motor Vehicle Accident (FindLaw)
- What Kinds of Damages May I Claim for Car Accident Injuries? (FindLaw)
- Is There a Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents? (FindLaw’s Injured)