How Long Do I Have to File an Accident Claim?
Auto accidents have been happening for as long as there have been vehicles on the road. When you get in an accident, there are multiple steps to take in reporting it to your insurance, filing a claim, receiving medical attention, repairing any damages to your vehicle, and any other tasks you can think of. The entire process can be rather drawn out, and depending on the severity of any injuries you may have sustained, some steps may be pushed down the list.
Filing an accident claim helps in making sure that you receive compensation, but it’s often one of those factors that gets put in the backseat. So how much time do you actually have to file a claim?
That actually depends on a number of factors, including the type of lawsuit and the state in which you live. Depending on where you live, and what the claims are, the time limit for filing a lawsuit after an event can vary. Laws called “statutes of limitations” set these deadlines.
Florida’s Statute of Limitations
In the state of Florida, the longest you have to file an accident claim based on negligence is four years after the crash date. Missing that window by even a day will result in you being unable to receive any compensation for your accident.
There are several exceptions to this law, though, so it’s never advised to wait the full four years to file. The available time for filing varies by what the claim is based on:
- Wrongful death: If someone died due to the accident, then you only have two years to file a claim.
- Government employee: If you are suing the government or a government employee for negligence, then you have three years to provide notice. After that, there is a 180-day investigation that must be performed before you can officially file your claim.
The 14-Day Rule
Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, which means you can file a claim with your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage provider first, regardless of who’s at fault. But that comes with a tricky 14-day rule.
Florida Statute 627.736 states that you must obtain medical care within 14 days of the traffic accident, or else your insurance company can deny your claim. The additional deadline often takes priority for auto accident victims.
How to File a Claim
After an accident occurs, there’s a particular order of operations that should be followed.
- Call the police.
- Exchange information with the other driver.
- Take pictures of the accident scene and damage.
- Contact your insurance company.
Reporting the incident as soon as possible is essential to preserving evidence. Waiting too long can give the driver at fault time to make repairs or change what would otherwise provide proof of their negligence.
When you call your insurance provider, you’ll need to have information about the other driver, any damages, injuries, and witnesses present. They’ll likely walk you through assessing the vehicle’s damage, towing it if necessary, and receiving a rental car.
Keep a detailed record of the accident and how it came about, keeping the sequence of events as accurate as possible. The police report should be kept as a reference as well.
Unfortunately, accidents happen and navigating accident claim laws can be intimidating. Being aware of timelines should help you prioritize the steps you take following a crash. Just be sure you don’t go a day past applicable deadlines, or you run the risk of being denied a claim or compensation. Our attorneys at Lowman Law Firm can consult you on your best move after a car accident and help keep you on track to meet those deadlines.