How Long After an Accident Can You File a Personal Injury Claim


Filing a claim may not be the first thing on your mind after an accident. You are dealing with shock, injuries, damages, etc. In the midst of everything, don’t forget to file your personal injury claim as well.

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Each state has their own statute of limitations for claims. Trying to file after this deadline will not work in most cases. In short, find out your state’s deadlines for personal injury claims, learn more about your options, and file as soon as you can.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations gives you a deadline to act. If you do not file your claim before the statute of limitations expires, you forfeit the right to receive compensation for damages. Depending on which state you live in, the statute of limitations ranges from 1 to 6 years. To avoid losing your chance, you need to find out how long you have to file a claim in your state.

Check out this chart that lists the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in all 50 states. The type or cause of injury–medical malpractice, slander, general injuries, etc.–also affects the time you have to act.

Your timeframe begins on the day of the accident. So if your state allows 4 years to file a claim, the statute of limitations expires 4 years from the accident date.

Deadline Exceptions

There are a couple exceptions to the deadlines set forth by each state. Find out if your state recognizes these exceptions and if they apply to you.

Exceptions include, but are not limited to:

  • Injury (or negligence) discovered at a later time than the incident
  • Bankruptcy
  • Injured party is a minor
  • Person is incapacitated, mentally disabled, or medically disabled

When the injured party is a minor, more allowance is given. Since a child cannot settle their own lawsuit, a parent or guardian files and settles claims. The statute of limitations varies by state, but will expire when they turn 18 (whichever comes first).

Things to Consider

  • Gather Information: Mark the date of your accident and write down any relevant information. Always get the other involved party’s insurance policy number.
  • Get Medical Attention: Even if you do not have immediate pain or noticeable injury after the accident, you should seek medical attention. This will give your claim validity.
  • Decide If You Need A Personal Injury Attorney: In simple cases, when injury is minimal and circumstances clear-cut, you may settle your claim with the responsible party and their insurer. In other cases, you may need to consult a personal injury attorney.
Filing a Lawsuit

Most of the time, you can settle a claim before coming to trial or even filing a lawsuit. However, if you cannot reach a settlement or if you have not filed a claim as the statute of limitations draws near, you may need to file a lawsuit.

Filing a lawsuit suspends the statute of limitations, giving you time to reach a settlement without worrying about the deadline.

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