Car Accident Claim Time Limits

Typically, time limits are not specified in insurance policies. However, most say that you need to make a claim promptly after an accident. These time limits come from state statute. Each state has a statute of limitations regarding personal injury, property damage, and car accident reporting.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

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By definition, a statute of limitations specifies the time in which certain legal actions can be taken. Therefore, when a statute of limitations runs out, you can no longer submit a claim regarding the issue. After the statute of limitations expires, legal pursuit will no longer be an option.

The “clock” on a statute of limitations begins running when the incident occurs and stops when a lawsuit is filed. If you let time run out without pursing the matters at hand, there is no further action you can take. However, your claim does not need to be finalized within this time frame.

These limits are not relevant to accidents involving federal, state, or local government employees. The statute of limitations in this situation expires faster.

What is the Purpose of a Statute of Limitations?

The time limits imposed by a statute of limitations protect the insurance company’s right and ability to investigate the claim. If you fail to report your accident or the damage that occurred in a timely manner, you may be impeding their investigation. The originating source of the damage you are claiming may come into question and will only complicate the negotiation process. Further, these time limits protect the insurance company from fraudulent claims.

These time limits protect your right to a fair trial. Over time, the recollection of events may fade or may change, and documents may be destroyed, declared unreliable, or lost. Therefore, it would not be possible to conduct a fair trial if the evidence and/or the testimony of any witnesses come into question. For these reasons, no court will accept a personal injury lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires.  

Each state has it’s own statute of limitations in regard to car accident reporting, making personal injury claims, and making property damage claims. The following is a chart that details the time period in which a person may file a claim or report an accident per state.

Statute of Limitations Per State

**Chart information sourced from https://www.finder.com/how-long-to-file-a-car-accident-claim

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