How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim? (2024)

Sarah Edwards


Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


Read in 4 mins

You have a lot to think about after an accident. You or a loved one may need medical care. If your property is damaged, you need to fix or replace it. How long after an accident can you file a claim?

Every state has a statute of limitations that determines the deadline for a legal claim. However, you have more considerations than just the statute because it depends on the type of claim, the type of insurance, and the loss you suffered.

Types of Insurance and Losses

Your right to file a legal claim might depend on your type of insurance. No-fault insurance rules in your state might block you from filing any type of lawsuit. Instead, you will file a claim with your no-fault insurer.

Other examples of liability claims you might file include the following:

  • Car accident claims are filed under auto insurance policies

You should get the other party’s insurance information when you get injured. This insurance information will tell your lawyer where to file your claim. If your claim involves a bodily injury, your deadline will depend on your state’s personal injury statute of limitations. The deadline for your claim may be different if it involves property losses.

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How Many Days After an Accident Can You File a Claim?

The answer to the question, “How long after an accident can you file a claim?” depends on many factors. With only a few exceptions, the type of accident does not matter. The same deadlines for a bodily injury will apply whether you were hit while riding your bike or slipped in a restaurant bathroom.

However, how quickly you file your claim may vary widely based on many factors, including:

Strength of Your Claim

If you have a strong case for liability, you will likely file relatively quickly. If you need more evidence, you can take additional time to develop the evidence. For example, if you require an accident reconstruction to explain who caused the crash, your lawyer may need to hire an expert. The expert will analyze your situation and prepare the report for your claim.

Losses You Incurred

You might incur significant losses after getting injured in an accident. These losses might include:

  • Past and future medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished future earnings

The sooner you file your claim, the sooner the insurer can work on your case. However, you should not assume that insurers work faster just because you acted quickly. A strategy used by some insurers is to slow-walk your claim to frustrate you into dropping your claim or accepting a low settlement offer.

In the meantime, you might need resources to pay for your medical treatment and living expenses. If you file quickly and your claim still takes a long time, you should consider speaking to a lawyer.

A lawyer can remind the insurer of its duties under your state’s Unfair Claim Practices Act. This law requires insurers to investigate claims in good faith and pay them promptly if it determines the policyholder is liable.

Claims Against the Government

If a government vehicle hits you in a car accident, motorcycle accident, or bus accident, different timelines will apply. Specifically, government agencies have sovereign immunity from lawsuits. However, most states have waived their immunity for injuries caused by government employee negligence.

The tradeoff is that most of these laws have strict timelines for claims. You often need to notify the government of your claim within a few days or weeks. The government will either turn the case over to its insurer or handle the claim itself.

If you were injured by a government worker in the course of their job duties, you should consider speaking to a lawyer promptly to ensure you meet any applicable deadlines.

How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Claim?

Most states give you at least a year to file injury claims after car accidents. However, you should not delay unreasonably. A year can go by quickly while you are undergoing medical treatment and therapy.

Moreover, your lawyer will need several months to prepare and file your insurance claim. The statute of limitations sets the deadline for filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Your lawyer will typically want to start with the insurance company several months before the deadline to try to settle the claim without resorting to a lawsuit.

Finally, if your deadline has already passed, you should still speak to a lawyer. Some states extend the deadlines under certain circumstances. You might qualify for an exception to the statute if, for example, you were in a coma.

Learn More From ConsumerShield

ConsumerShield educates consumers about their legal rights. After a crash, we help you understand your legal rights and options. We will refer you to a lawyer to handle your claims. Contact us to schedule your free case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • You usually have at least a year to file a claim. However, the answer depends on your state’s statute of limitations. You should consult a lawyer to learn how it applies to your case.

  • Claims against a governmental entity have different deadlines than claims against private parties. Consult a lawyer to learn about your timeline for filing against a city, county, or state agency.

  • The right to file a no-fault claim depends on your state’s rules and your insurance policy. You should notify your insurer as soon as possible after the accident and speak to a lawyer about whether you have additional rights depending on your injuries.

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