The aftermath of an accident that causes serious injuries is cloudy and confusing, and your immediate concern is going to be securing your physical health and safety. As you slowly start to unpack what happened, you’ll be faced with even more questions and concerns. Most notably, how will you pay for your medical bills and other losses, and how long can you file a claim after an accident?

Every state has statute of limitations laws regarding compensation after a personal injury accident. Below, we’ll explain exactly what you need to know to file your claim soon enough to preserve your rights.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only. While we strive to keep the information up-to-date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to the blog or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the blog for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

Statute of Limitations: State-Specific Guidelines

So, “How long after a car accident can I sue?”, you will ask. In general, you’ll only have a few years to build up your case and officially file your claim.

Keep in mind that the statute of limitations varies from state to state. States pass laws that set their own personal injury guidelines. Every state currently has a time limit on personal injury claims encoded in law.

You need to know how long you have to report accident situations in your state because reporting your accident will be your first step in seeking out a claim. Below, we’ll go over the exact time frame you have from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim in various states throughout the country.

Each State’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims

State Statute of Limitations
Alabama 2 Years
Alaska 2 Years
Arizona 2 Years
Arkansas 3 Years
California 2 Years
Colorado 2 Years (3 if a motor vehicle accident)
Connecticut 2 Years
Delaware 2 Years
District of Columbia 3 Years
Florida 2 Years
Georgia 2 Years
Hawaii 2 Years
Idaho 2 Years
Illinois 2 Years
Indiana 2 Years
Iowa 2 Years
Kansas 2 Years
Kentucky 1 Year (2 years if motor vehicle accident)
Louisiana 1 Year
Maine 6 Years
Maryland 3 Years
Massachusetts 3 Years
Michigan 3 Years
Minnesota 2 Years
Mississippi 3 Years
Missouri 5 Years
Montana 3 Years
Nebraska 4 Years
Nevada 2 Years
New Hampshire 3 Years
New Jersey 2 Years
New Mexico 3 Years
New York 3 Years
North Carolina 3 Years
North Dakota 6 Years
Ohio 2 Years
Oklahoma 2 Years
Oregon 2 Years
Pennsylvania 2 Years
Rhode Island 3 Years
South Carolina 3 Years
South Dakota 3 Years
Tennessee 1 Year
Texas 2 Years
Utah 4 Years
Vermont 3 Years
Virginia 2 Years
Washington 3 Years
West Virginia 2 Years
Wisconsin 3 Years
Wyoming 4 Years

Reporting to Your Insurance Company

Statute of limitations laws refer to personal injury lawsuits, but you almost certainly have a much shorter time limit for insurance claim purposes. When reporting a car accident to your car insurance provider, you typically only have about 30 days to tell your provider. Insurance policy protocols vary from company to company, though, so you may have to go over your policy to determine how long you have to report the incident. Some insurers prefer that you make your report within 24 hours to avoid any insurance rate impact.

If you do contact your insurance company promptly, be careful about what you say initially. Do not discuss or comment on any injuries or faults. Simply inform them that an accident occurred, and you’ll contact them with more details once you’ve spoken to an attorney.

It may be a good idea to also ask about your exact policy. It makes a difference whether you have comprehensive damage or collision coverage.

Factors Influencing Claim Deadlines

In general, a car accident claim time limit will remain stable unless the injured individual is incapacitated and unable to pursue a claim. The time it takes to pursue your case could be impacted based on the severity of your injuries, the complexities of your case, the strength of the other side’s legal team, and whether other people are also pursuing claims against the party.

In general, it’s best for everyone to seek out a timely claim when an accident has occurred. Evidence such as the official police report and the initial accident investigation results can degrade over time, especially if these forms of evidence aren’t sought out immediately after the incident. It’s much harder to file an accident report weeks after your crash than it is to have the authorities come out to the scene and witness the crash results themselves.

Consequences of Missing the Claim Deadline

If you wait too long to file a claim, you risk losing your rights. When too much time passes, you automatically forfeit your right to compensation.

When it comes to your insurance policy, if you miss the claim deadline, then you’ll likely face an insurance claim denial even if you can genuinely prove all your claims. With a lawsuit, you’ll also face a denial of your claim, and an appeal is unlikely to be fruitful unless you can prove that your situation should be an exception to the state’s statute of limitations laws.

Why Statute of Limitation Laws are in Place

Filing a claim in a timely manner is important for several reasons, and these laws are put into place to protect both injured individuals and the parties who cause or contribute to these accidents.

First, statute of limitation laws protect injured individuals because they encourage injured claimants to act promptly. After an accident, it’s important to quickly act to collect evidence, report the incident, and get medical care. If too much time goes by, then the evidence can degrade or get lost, facts surrounding your claim can get murky, and it can be more challenging to determine the extent of your injuries and whether they were caused directly by the incident.

Statute of limitation laws also protect individuals accused of causing accidents because it ensures that claims can’t be brought against them years in the future. A claim that’s several years old would be time-consuming and costly to pursue, investigate, and defend against.

States set specific time limits for the various types of personal injury claims to protect everyone's interests.

Are There Exceptions?

Personal injury statute of limitation laws are crucial in protecting everyone’s rights, but there are a few exceptions that exist under the law. Most notably, if individuals experience an accident that results in an injury and they’re not yet 18 years old, then the statute of limitations clock won’t really begin ticking until the minor reaches 18 years old. That means the minor has until they are 20 to seek out a personal injury claim if no claim was taken out for them while they were young.

Another important exception is that the statute of limitations won’t begin if the injured individual is incapacitated and unable to pursue a claim. For instance, if the accident leaves someone in a coma, then they won’t reasonably be able to file a claim until they’re conscious again.

Some types of personal injury claims are less straightforward than others, and exceptions may also apply in these cases. For instance, if a patient was injured due to medical malpractice but they didn’t reasonably know about or discover their injuries until much later after the accident date, then they may still be able to file a claim. In these situations, the statute of limitations clock would start ticking when the person reasonably discovers their injuries.

Tips for Timely Claim Submission

In order for your claim to be successful, you need to submit it in a timely manner. The claim resolution process is time-consuming, though, so you’ll also need to take your time collecting the right evidence, documenting your claims, and investigating the incident. To make sure you give yourself enough time to handle all the details of your claim, it’s usually best to consult with a personal injury attorney.

The right attorney will have experience with the typical personal injury lawsuit timeline. They’ll know how to get the process rolling, help you collect evidence, value your claim, negotiate with the other party, and work towards maximizing your claim. They’ll also do their due diligence in keeping up with important deadlines and dates.

Are you interested in talking to an attorney about your recent accident? Schedule an obligation-free meeting with our team of personal injury lawyers to discuss your situation in more detail now.

March 14, 2024

Ray Kermani
Didn't find the answer to your question?

Contact our personal injury legal team for a free case evaluation.

Contact us now!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Receive a FREE case assessment

Every case is unique, so we tailor our approach to meet your specific needs.

Due diligence got me only so far as I went through three seemingly great law firms before finding Kermani LLP right here on yelp. They were fantastic.

Testimonial Author Kermani LLP

Mary W.

Former Client

When I was hurt in a bike accident last year, a friend recommended I get a lawyer and sent me to Ray Kermani. Ray and his team knew exactly what needed to be done and took care of everything.

Testimonial Author Kermani LLP

Anna F.

Former Client

Ray is one of the easiest people to work with. His communication is great and he always walks you through the steps. I was little down after my accident. He got me paid quickly and way more than I thought was even possible. He goes the extra mile.

Testimonial Author Kermani LLP

Seema P.

Former Client

The staff is super friendly, approachable and responsive. They provide one on one attention, unless most law firms that just answer calls and want you money.

Testimonial Author Kermani LLP

Shobeir S.

Former Client

They took what was a complicated case that most law firms wouldn't touch, and turned it into a large six figure judgment.

Testimonial Author Kermani LLP

Sanaz A.

Former Client

Best law firm. They know how to win a case at trial, unlike most law firms that advertise as such. They will push every button that needs to be done to win your case. I was super satisfied.

Testimonial Author Kermani LLP

Adil L.

Former Client