How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

By Julie H. Heiden

Car accidents happen daily, injuring around 3 million people every year in the U.S. and causing thousands of fatalities. How long after a car accident can you claim injury? The statute of limitations differs depending on the state where the accident happened, and you must adhere to the laws in that jurisdiction.

How Long Do You Have After a Car Accident To Claim Injury?

How long after a car accident can you claim injury?

The statute of limitations for a car accident varies by state, so find out the applicable deadline for the location of your crash. The timeframe typically begins on the date of the accident, although there are some exceptions. For instance:

  • In Washington, D.C., you have three years to file a personal injury claim and two years for eligible survivors to file a wrongful death claim.
  • For car accidents that happen in Virginia, the statute of limitations for personal injury or wrongful death claims is two years.
  • Maryland’s statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death suits is three years.

Possible exceptions include injuries that aren’t apparent immediately after a crash and develop over time, injured minors, and claims against a government entity. Contacting an experienced car accident attorney immediately ensures you don’t miss your opportunity to seek compensation.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

In personal injury law, a statute of limitations sets the legal deadline for filing a civil lawsuit to seek compensation from the at-fault party. If you don’t file your claim before the deadline, you typically can’t hold the guilty party liable for your damages.

A statute of limitations is different than deadlines for filing insurance claims. Review your auto insurance policy documents to see what that company’s deadline is.

How Does a Car Accident Claim Work?

You must file a claim within the statute of limitations for a car accident in your state.

After a car accident, you can claim injury starting with filing an insurance claim. However, liable insurers may deny your claim or use other tactics to minimize your payout, such as offering an unreasonably low settlement amount.

You don’t have to accept initial settlement offers; you can negotiate for a reasonable sum. However, many people settle for less than they should. Those who have legal representation usually see significantly higher payouts.

The lawyers at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, can usually settle your case without having to file a lawsuit. However, insurance companies sometimes refuse to cooperate. If this happens, we may recommend filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial.

The claims process can be lengthy. Your legal team needs sufficient time to investigate your accident properly and gather evidence to support your claim. Contacting us as soon as possible after your accident gives us enough time to see if the liable insurance company will be reasonable and still be able to file a lawsuit before the applicable statute of limitations expires.

Why Choose Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, To Help With Your Car Accident Injury Claim?

At Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, we know how long after a car accident you have to claim injury and what laws apply to your case. Our firm was founded in 1979, so we have decades of experience winning car accident claims. Contact us today for your free consultation to learn how we can help you. We only take a fee if we succeed in obtaining compensation for you.

About the Author
Ms. Heiden is a Virginia injury attorney who represents injured individuals in personal injury, product liability, social security, and workers compensation cases. In 2009, she was recognized by Cambridge Who’s Who for demonstrating dedication, leadership, and excellence in legal services.