How Long Do I Have To File a Claim?
Were you hurt on the job? Perhaps you were in a car accident that someone else caused, or maybe you had a misdiagnosis or a poorly done surgery. There are many reasons that someone may choose to file a personal injury claim. It is important to understand how the process works and how long you have to file the claim.
The Statute of Limitations
There are two different statutes of limitations in many cases. One determines how long you have to file a claim with your insurance company. The other determines how long you have to file a claim in court if you intend to pursue a lawsuit. To make it even more complicated, the statutes aren’t federally mandated, which means that every state and insurance company has its own regulations.
If you plan to file a claim with the insurance company, call to find out its specific limits. If you want to file a claim in court, most states give you between 1 and 6 years to do so. However, that time may be shorter if you are filing a claim against a city, state, or federal government, such as if you were in a car accident with someone driving a government vehicle.
There Are Rare Exceptions
Most of the time, you’ll need to adhere to the strict deadlines set forth by your state. However, in rare cases, there are exceptions. One such exception is if you can prove you didn’t know right away that you were injured or didn’t realize that it was someone else’s fault at first. However, this can be very difficult to prove, so it’s important to hire a lawyer who can assist you if you intend to take this route. Additionally, some states have a clause that “pauses” your time clock if the at-fault party leaves the state for any period of time. This means that if you have three years to file a claim but the defendant was out of the state for a year, you’ll have an extension of one year. Keep in mind that your clock starts the day the accident happens. If your injury occurs on July 26 and your deadline is one year, you’ll only have until July 26 of the following year.
File a Claim as Soon as Possible
As soon as you realize you have an injury that is causing medical problems, lost wages, or a loss in your quality of life, and as soon as you know it is through no fault of your own, it is important to being the process of filing claims with both the insurance and, if necessary, the courts. This helps to prove that you are genuinely injured and not “faking it” to get money.