The aftermath of a car accident can feel like a whirlwind. Between seeking treatment, getting your vehicle repaired, and dealing with insurance, there's a lot to handle. Add emotional upheaval to the equation, and it's easy to see why so many car accident victims take so long to seek the damages they deserve.
As you proceed, remember: even seemingly brief delays can cause a world of trouble. This will become abundantly clear below, as we highlight both the personal injury and insurance implications of waiting too long to embark on the claims process.
Crash Report Deadline
Following an Ohio car accident, you may need to file an official crash report with the state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This is required if the accident meets any of these criteria:
- The accident resulted in over $400 worth of property damage
- Somebody was injured as a result of the crash
- One of the drivers lacks appropriate car insurance coverage
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Ohio
The statute of limitations determines when you can file a car accident lawsuit via the civil court system. This can differ considerably from one state to the next. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases (including negligent-based auto accidents) is two years from the date of the accident.
Ohio's statute of limitations applies to both personal injuries and damage done to the plaintiff's vehicle. Furthermore, this two-year deadline must be followed when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In this situation, however, the deadline would occur two years after the car accident victim passed away, as opposed to the date of the accident itself.
Insurance Claims and Insurance Company Deadlines
Personal injury is only part of the picture when seeking fair compensation. Insurance companies are another major factor. Timelines for dealing with insurance look considerably different than the statutes of limitations outlined above. As such, it's common for confused victims to ask: How long do you have to file an insurance claim?
Unfortunately, the answer to this common query is far from simple. There is no universal deadline for filing an insurance claim, although delays are always worth avoiding. Rather than imposing a specific deadline, most insurance providers direct policyholders to initiate claims "promptly" after they're involved in accidents. This leaves a lot of room for confusion, as everybody has a slightly different definition of prompt.
Occasionally, deadlines are specifically built into car insurance policies. Even when they're not, swift action is preferred, as extensive delays can impact the ability of both insurance providers and legal representatives to investigate the circumstances surrounding these accidents. As a result, insurance companies are more likely to deny claims that are submitted several months after accidents take place.
While notifying your insurance company early on is important, it's still best to discuss your situation with an attorney first. Your car accident lawyer can help you avoid claim denial while sidestepping potentially underhanded tactics from insurance representatives. To give your legal claim the best possible start, contact an attorney as soon as possible.
As we've discussed, the deadline for taking legal action following an Ohio car accident is a strict two years. That being said, it's important to get in touch with an attorney far sooner — ideally in the first few days or even hours after the accident. This will better enable your Ohio car accident lawyer to gather strong evidence, including photos of the accident scene and witness information.
Best of all, your lawyer can keep track of key filing deadlines, thereby removing a significant source of stress as you focus on your recovery.
What You Risk in Delaying Your Personal Injury Claim
With Ohio car accident cases, the time frame matters. Delays could cause you to miss the two-year deadline referenced in the Ohio statute of limitations. If this happens, your case will almost certainly be dismissed.
Similarly, you'll be in big trouble if you wait too long to deal with insurance. As a result, you could miss out on multiple forms of compensation, such as the following.
If your recent car accident resulted in injury, you may face significant medical bills. Depending on your situation, coverage could be available through both insurance and personal injury damages. This could reduce financial hardship as you deal not only with immediate hospital bills, but also with the long-term cost of rehabilitation.
A swift response is especially important if you've invested in a no-fault version of coverage known as med-pay. This is designed to help you cover medical care as soon as it's needed, rather than waiting for payouts. This type of coverage is only provided for a limited time period, so it's best to take advantage of it quickly.
In addition to medical damages, negligence-related car accident cases often lead to compensation for pain and suffering. This accounts for the emotional distress you and your loved ones have experienced as a result of the crash. Miss the two-year statute of limitations, and you will almost certainly give up your ability to secure this significant source of compensation.
From an insurance perspective, delays can make it difficult to get personal property covered. This means missing out on a huge opportunity if the other driver was at fault: the chance to get the cost of repairs covered — or a full payout if your car is deemed a total loss.
Given the inherent complications of establishing liability, it's absolutely crucial to get an attorney in your corner when you're involved in an Ohio car accident.
Ready to File Your Claim Injury With an Ohio Accident Injury Lawyer?
At this point, you should understand the answer to the common question: How long after a car accident can you claim injury? You also know that there's a strict time limit — and that your ability to collect damages hangs in the balance. With a prompt response and excellent legal representation, you can secure the damages to which you're entitled.
The Moore Law Firm is an excellent resource for Ohio drivers. We have a long history of success with local car accident cases. We're happy to advocate on your behalf, bringing an assertive approach to the table as we deal with car insurance companies or navigate a personal injury lawsuit. Contact us today to get started.