How Long After an Incident Can You File a Personal Injury Claim?
Approximately 1.5 million personal injury claims are filed each year worldwide, but when are these claims filed? Right after the accident, the focus should be on recovering from any injuries sustained during the incident. It may take weeks or even months until you even think about filing a claim to try to receive compensation for your injuries. However, waiting too long can have a negative impact on the amount you might be able to recover as a result of the incident.
In this article, we walk you through the steps to take after an accident and explain things that may affect the time you have in which to file a personal injury claim.
First Steps After an Accident
The first thing to do after an accident is to receive prompt medical treatment. If you are severely injured, you may not have to make a decision about where you receive treatment or the type of treatment you receive.
If you are not gravely injured, you should still seek medical attention. Take photographs of the scene and your injuries. Get contact information from any other people involved and all witnesses that you can locate. Do not admit that the accident was your fault or apologize to the other party. Most of the time, things you say in the wake of an accident can be used against you if and when there is a lawsuit filed.
Odds are, you aren’t a lawyer and haven’t been involved in a personal injury incident before. The next step after getting medical attention is to consult with an attorney about your legal options. Most law firms offer free consultations to evaluate your particular set of circumstances and help you understand your options.
Legal consultation will help you to understand the legal process, what you might expect to recover for your injuries, whom you can sue and how the laws in your state will affect your ability to recover. You might think that you can figure things out on your own, but the average person receives a settlement that is 3½ times larger when they get the help of a lawyer. If nothing else, a consultation will help you get a good idea about whether you have a good claim.
Sometimes, you might receive ongoing medical treatment after a personal injury incident. Medical bills mount up quickly, and you may have difficulty paying the bills if you are out of work due to your injuries. If this is the case, you don’t necessarily need to wait to file a claim to recover for your personal injuries. Most states have something called a statute of limitations that sets a statutory deadline for filing a lawsuit. There can be different deadlines for different types of personal injury cases, and the length of time will vary from state to state. For example, a car accident case may have a different statute of limitations than a slip and fall case or even a medical malpractice case.
Even if you may think that you can settle your case without involving the court system by working directly with an insurance company, you should still be cognizant of the statute of limitations. Your state may require a personal injury case to be filed within one year of the accident, or you may have as many as three or four years to file a lawsuit.
While there are limited exceptions to the statute of limitations, it is best not to take a wait-and-see approach here. Additionally, you can file a claim and still negotiate a settlement out of court. You don’t want to inadvertently waive your rights to pursue a claim by failing to comply with the statute of limitations.
Seek Expert Legal Advice to Discuss Your Specific Case
The majority of personal injury cases result from auto accidents. There are several other types of personal injury cases filed each year, including workplace injuries, slip and fall cases and dog bites. While many of these cases settle without ever going to court, it is important to meet with an attorney and discuss the aspects of your case and any time limitations that may apply before time runs out and you have waived your right to pursue a claim.
At McManes Law, you can trust that we will handle your case with care, starting with a free and honest evaluation of your case. We work on a contingency basis, foregoing our fee unless you get a recovery. If you are hurt, angry, confused and scared, contact one of our attorneys to discuss your specific case. Call us today at 770-645-8801.