Paperwork may be the last thing on your mind in the aftermath of a car accident.
And no wonder – accidents are stressful as it is. Why make your life more difficult by filling out endless forms and wasting hours talking to lawyers and insurers?
Here’s why: A successful personal injury claim can cover the costs of your medical treatment or vehicle damage. But if you wait too long to file, you could miss your chance to get the compensation you deserve.
So, how long after a car accident can you claim injury?
Read on to find out.
How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?
Unfortunately, you don’t have unlimited time. Under South Carolina law, you can file a personal injury lawsuit no later than three years from the date of the accident.
However, this only applies if the other party is a private individual or entity. If the other party is a government entity – such as if you were hit by a police car or an ambulance – the filing deadline is two years.
Keep in mind that just because you technically have two or three years doesn’t mean you can safely wait anywhere near this long. You want to speak with a personal injury lawyer and file your claim as soon as possible. As time goes by, critical evidence may go missing or your memories of the accident could fade.
What Happens If You Miss the Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Claim?
If you file after the two- or three-year mark, your claim will most likely be dismissed.
In rare cases, the court may grant an exception if there are legitimate reasons for not filing on time, such as:
The injured party is under 18
Children are typically given one year to file after they turn 18.
The injured party has been declared insane
Once they no longer meet the state’s legal definition of insanity, the party has one year from that date to file a lawsuit. However, the courts will not extend the filing deadline longer than five years in insanity cases.
The person who caused the injury leaves the state for one year or more before you are able to file
If the at-fault party goes missing or resides out of state for at least one continuous year, the period of absence doesn’t count toward the filing period.
What Is the Deadline for Filing an Injury Insurance Claim?
In reality, most personal injury claims are settled out of court via insurance settlements, so that’s definitely an option you should look into with your attorney.
There are two important things to keep in mind here.
The first is that the timeframe for filing an injury insurance claim is usually much tighter than the deadline for filing a lawsuit.
Reporting requirements vary across providers. Most will require you to file within a reasonable time, but some may set a hard deadline, such as 30 days. Be sure to check the terms of your policy and contact your insurer if you have any questions.
The second thing to note is that you should keep the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit in mind even if you’d rather settle out of court. Insurance companies will do anything to avoid a payout, so you could use the threat of a lawsuit as leverage.
What to Do If You’ve Been in a Car Accident a While Ago
If you had a car accident a few weeks, months, or even a couple of years ago, you might still be eligible for compensation.
However, you can’t afford to waste any more time. Contact an experienced car accident attorney and start building your case right away. The sooner you start, the greater your chance of getting the maximum compensation available to you.
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Our team of auto accident lawyers has decades of combined experience serving the state of South Carolina.
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The posts on this website/blog are published as a service to our clients and friends. They are intended to provide general information only and should not be construed to be formal legal advice regarding any specific situation and should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. Success in the past does not indicate the likelihood of success in any future
*Contingency fee is a percentage of total recovery before deducting costs. Clients are not liable for costs if there is no recovery.