Getting into any car accident is never good, regardless of whether you’re on a vacation, heading to work, or just running errands. Regardless of who is at fault, you need to handle several things following an accident.
The top priority is making sure everyone is okay and summoning medical attention if anyone needs it. However, once that’s settled, you might start wondering how long you have to report the car accident to your insurer.
You probably will have a lot of questions if you have been involved in an automobile accident, and usually, you will want to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney who focuses on motor vehicle accidents.
Should You Even Report The Car Accident?
There might be cases where you don’t even want to report the car accident at all. However, this is honestly rare. For instance, if you just scraped your door against a concrete pillar in a parking deck, you might not really want to go through the hassle of insurance paperwork since the repair cost is likely to be less than your deductible. A big temptation here might be avoiding seeing your premiums go up.
In terms of a small accident, just accept that you should report anything involving damage to someone else’s property when it’s your fault. Even in a single-vehicle accident, you should contact them just to protect yourself legally. Also, if an accident isn’t your fault, contact them and the other driver’s insurance provider as promptly as possible.
How Long Do You Have To File A Report?
As a general rule of thumb, you should use your smartphone and insurance app to report the accident while still at the scene. This is a big reason why so many insurers have apps and 24-hours accident hotlines.
The specific details are in your policy, and it’s not public information nor a universal standard. Some specify that you must report it within 24 hours, but others give you 30 days or even a year, based on the circumstances. Still, in most nearly every case, you should get a police report and an insurance claim in as quickly as you possibly can.
The Statute Of Limitations
Lawsuits are an exception in terms of car accidents, and yet they’re necessary if an insurance company isn’t properly covering all of your damages. Every state has its own strict time limits for filing a lawsuit. These are known as the civil statute of limitations. That ‘clock’ starts the day of the accident.
Also keep in mind that even within the same state, different kinds of claims might have different time limits. For instance, Illinois gives you two years to file a claim for personal injury, but five years for damage to personal property.
In North Carolina, you have 3 years to file a lawsuit before the statute expires, at which time, your window will have closed. This doesn’t mean your active lawsuit will expire 3 years from the accident date, it just means you have 3 years to get the ball officially rolling.
This statute exists for 2 main reasons:
- to make sure that a lawsuit commences in a timely fashion so that everyone involved can have a clearer recollection of events.
- To prevent that the defendant doesn’t have this lawsuit hanging over their heads indefinitely.
Why Moving Fast Matters
If you’re at-fault for an accident, the sooner you inform your insurance company, the sooner they can come to your defense. You won’t run the risk of passing up their deadlines, and so you can get legal protection and car repairs handled faster.
If you’re not at fault, you’re still protecting yourself. Informing the other driver’s insurance means they know about it even if the driver doesn’t report it. It also lets them know you’re looking for what you’re entitled to.
In either case, starting a claim at the accident scene means the app and/or 24-hour line can walk you through gathering photos, names, phone numbers, policy information, and eyewitness accounts of the accident that can help you out legally down the road.
If you were injured through no fault of your own, or due to another person’s negligence, you may have a case that Asheville Auto Accident Attorney Lakota R. Denton can help you with. Whether you’ve been in an automobile accident or pedestrian or bicycle accident, or you or your loved one has been hit by a drunk driver, we are here to help. You can download the free personal injury guide for car accidents the firm offers.