After a car accident, you may not realize that you are injured at first. The initial adrenaline high after a crash dulls the pain. You might see a physical therapist or chiropractor months later and finally put it all together. You’ve been injured in a car accident and need to make a claim. But how long after a car accident can you claim an injury?

Use Insurance to Make a Claim for Injury After Car Accident

When you first have an accident and realize you are injured, you may look to your insurance company for your settlement. It is essential to file a claim with your insurance. However, realize that your insurance company is not looking out for your best interests. They do not represent you.

Your auto insurance is there to help you pay for medical treatment and damages in the event of a car accident. If they choose not to meet your needs, you may hire an attorney to fight for your rights. Some of the best outcomes happen when you hire an attorney from the beginning of the negotiations with your insurance company.

You can look at your auto policy to determine insurance company time limits for reporting an accident or making a claim. Your insurer will generally respond to your claim within 30 days. 

However, if you need to make a claim outside of their timetable parameters, you can still do so in a court of law. How long after a car accident you can claim injury depends on state statutes, not your insurance provider.

Claim Damages for Injuries 

Whether your insurer accepts a claim or not, you can file a lawsuit based on the statute of limitations where you live. According to North Carolina law, you have three (3) years after an accident to file a claim for damages. You can file for yourself, someone else, or for property damage. Whether you were a pedestrian involved in a car crash, a driver, or a passenger, you have a 3-year clock running.

If you don’t realize that you have injuries to your person or physical damage to your vehicle, the clock may start later. The 3-year time clock starts when a reasonable person should have noticed the damage or injury. 

If in the future, you find out more about what happened, you may file a case against someone reckless or negligent. However, you must still file within the 3-years of finding out additional at-fault details in your case. 

In no case may you file a claim ten years after the auto accident that caused the injuries or wrongful death.

Wrongful Death

If someone dies after a car accident with negligence involved, the family can file a wrongful death suit. If the family finds out that there was intentionally criminal conduct or even simple negligence, the defendant can be liable for a motor vehicle’s negligent operation.

In this case, the family has two years after the death to file the suit. So if the deceased dies four months after the accident, as a result of the accident, then the family has two years after the death to file the lawsuit.

However, if you find out someone was negligent and then let the statute of limitations for personal injury run out, your claim for wrongful death is no longer valid. The personal injury lawsuit statute of limitations still applies when filing for wrongful death.

Auto Insurance is a Business

Auto insurance is a for-profit company who by definition, wants to make and not lose profits. Without representation, you can lose out on getting your best settlement. Hiring an attorney to represent you with the insurance company is statistically proven to bring a better settlement for your claim.

Martindale-Nolo Research shows:

  • The average settlement for those with attorneys was $77,600. For those who handled their own cases, it was only $17,600.
  • 91% of those who hired a lawyer received compensation, compared to 51% of those who did not hire an attorney.

Move Forward

However you decide to proceed with an injury claim, an attorney can walk you through each step. Attorneys handle any negotiations with your insurance until you are satisfied with the outcome. If your negotiated insurance payout settlement is not acceptable, an experienced personal injury attorney can:

  • file your lawsuit
  • negotiate a settlement
  • fight for your rights in court

Find Help

At Hogan, Edwards, and Blue, we talk with those suffering from car accident injuries daily. We understand the struggle you face and want to ensure fair treatment by the insurance company for your medical costs and suffering. Whether we are negotiating with your insurance company or arguing your case in court, you can trust that our professional experience as personal injury lawyers will take care of you.