If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, you must file a claim with the insurance company as quickly as possible. That’s because there are legal deadlines you need to meet to protect your right to recover money. Further, the longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to win your case.
At John Foy & Associates, our Atlanta car accident lawyers know how difficult it can be to move forward after a collision. qWe’re here to provide the representation you need to file a winning claim. Reach out to us to schedule a free consultation with a trusted attorney. They’ll meet with you to discuss your crash and let you know how long you have to file a claim after an auto accident.
Deadline To File an Insurance Claim After an Auto Accident
While there isn’t a hard deadline to file an insurance claim after an accident, you’ll want to submit your claim as soon as possible. That’s because the insurance company will likely take your claim less seriously if you wait a long time to file it.
To ensure the provider takes your claim seriously, contact the insurance company and report your accident on the same day as the accident. Insurance companies have their own deadlines, and some may require that you report an accident within as little as 24 hours to have a valid claim. It’s best to call your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company.
If the insurance adjuster fails to offer fair compensation, you may have to take your case to court. In that case, you’d have a strict deadline to submit your civil suit. It’s best to get started on your claim soon so you have the time to prepare and file a lawsuit if your case goes to court.
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Deadline To File a Legal Claim After an Auto Accident
If your car accident attorney advises you to take legal action, you must abide by the filing deadline for your unique situation. Filing deadlines are governed by state and federal laws called statutes of limitations. In Georgia, the deadlines in most auto cases are as follows:
- 2 years from the date of the accident to file claims for injuries
- 4 years from the date of the accident to file claims for property damage expenses, like the cost of repairs for your car
- Longer if you were younger than 18 when the accident happened.
If you were under 18 when the accident occurred, the 2 or 4-year statute of limitations will start when you turn 18. So if you were 17 when the accident happened, you would have nearly 3 years to file a claim for injuries instead of the usual 2 years.
In Some Cases, You May Have Less Time to File an Auto Accident Claim
In some cases, the amount of time you have to file a claim after an auto accident may be much shorter. You’ll want to get in touch with a skilled lawyer ASAP if one of the following deadlines applies to your case:
- You have 6 months from the accident date if it involved a city or county vehicle, such as a Park Service truck.
- You have 1 year from the date of the accident if it involved a state vehicle, such as a state trooper squad car.
Special rules apply if a federal government vehicle was involved in the collision. In that case, you’d have to go through an administrative claim process first, which usually has a 2-year deadline. Then, you would have a 6-month time limit to file a civil suit in court.
You do not have to be the one driving the government vehicle for these special timelines to apply. If you are a private citizen driving your car and get in a fender bender caused by a government vehicle, you still have to follow the shorter deadlines.
Using the Timeline Wisely
Just because you have up to 2 years to file your personal injury claim does not mean waiting that long is a good idea. Typically, the sooner you start the claims process, the stronger your claim is. Here’s why filing ASAP can help your chances of getting a fair result:
- Filing immediately shows that you took your injury seriously from the start, which means insurers can’t claim you are “making up” your injury.
- If you wait too long to file a claim, the insurance company may claim you made your injury worse by putting off treatment.
- The longer you wait, the harder it is to find witnesses, and the less useful those witnesses will be
- Police officers forget details as time passes, making their testimony less effective.
Working with a committed attorney can ensure your time is used wisely. They’ll work quickly to investigate the crash, analyze evidence, and file a winning claim. With their help, you’ll likely get the auto insurance policy coverage you need to pay your medical bills, take care of vehicle repair shop bills, and replace lost income.
File a Police Report Before You Contact a Lawyer
You must report your accident before you even start your auto claim. To report your crash, call the police from the accident scene and tell them what happened. You will need an official police accident report to start your auto insurance claim, so you should never agree to keep the accident a secret if the at-fault driver asks you to.
In some cases, if you do not call the police, you could even be accused of hit and run. To protect yourself and your right to compensatory damages, you’ll want to contact the police as soon after the incident as you can. Once you’ve done so, you can see a doctor and consider hiring an attorney to help with your claim.
How Soon After Your Accident Should You Contact an Attorney?
We urge all car accident victims to look into the claim process as soon as possible. Ideally, you should speak to a lawyer within just 1 week of your accident. Your lawyer can help you decide if you have a case and determine your best course of action.
Once you’ve reported the accident to the police and received medical care for your injuries, you’ll want to schedule a consultation with a trusted attorney. If they agree to help with your case, you can have peace of mind that your claim is in excellent hands.
Contact Our Team Today for Help with a Free Consultation
Figuring out how long you have to file a claim after an auto accident can be difficult, especially if you’re in pain and focusing on recovering from your injuries. Fortunately, a skilled Atlanta car accident lawyer from John Foy & Associates can provide the information you need to make smart legal decisions.
Our attorneys can also help with your claim and represent you throughout the legal process. We’ll do everything possible to get the damages and justice you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and get started on your claim.