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The stress of being in a car accident can seem overwhelming. You may be injured, your car could be damaged, and you might be facing an expensive insurance claim. You could also be suffering from the shock of the collision itself, as well as facing the hassle of organizing everything that needs to happen afterwards.
Even so, it is important to remember the various deadlines that exist for reporting a car accident. These apply both to how long you have to report a car accident to your insurance company, as well as the length of time you have to report an accident to police.
When it comes to reporting an accident to your insurance company, the general rule is that you should report it as soon as possible. Every insurance company has its own rules, stated clearly in your policy documents.
If you fail to report an accident to your insurance company within their deadlines – because you make a conscious decision not to, or simply because you forgot – it may be harder to report the accident if you need to later on. This can be a problem if, for example, someone involved in the accident later discovers they have suffered whiplash and makes a claim against your insurance.
Insurance companies generally require you to report every accident – whether it is a minor fender bender or a serious multi-car pile-up. However, there are sometimes exceptions when it is a minor accident involving only one car – for example, if you scraped your own car on your garden fence.
If you are involved in a serious car accident where people are injured or there is extensive property damage, the police must always be informed immediately. They will need to attend the accident scene and you should wait until they arrive.
If the accident is less severe, it is still usually advisable to ring the police and find out whether they should come to the accident scene. If not, you can report the accident at a police station. It is best to make an accident report as soon as possible after an accident has happened.
In general, claims for compensation after a car accident are handled by the drivers’ insurance companies. If there is reason to file a lawsuit, the deadline for making a claim will come from the individual state’s statute of limitations.
A statute of limitations sets deadlines for making different kinds of legal claims. So, in relation to car accidents, there will be a deadline for making a personal injury claim related to your injuries, and another related to damage to your vehicle and other property. The timeframe will run from the date of the accident.
If a person doesn’t file a case within the relevant deadline, a court is unlikely to listen to their claim and they will be unable to claim any compensation. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to advise you on your state’s statute of limitations for making a claim.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified auto accident lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local auto accident attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.