What Are the Statute of Limitations in a Car Accident?
In the days and weeks following a car accident, you are focused on a lot of distracting and important things such as medical visits, recovering from any injuries sustained in the auto accident, worrying about finances such as trying to repair vehicle damage, replacing a vehicle that was lost, lost wages from missing work for injury or doctor visits and more. Time can move faster than it seems. So you might be wondering: What are the statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim in Pennsylvania?
You may not know this but car accidents and personal injury lawsuits in general, follow very specific statute of limitations depending on the state you live in. The car accident lawyers Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys explains how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident and what steps you need to take to meet those time constraints.
How Does the Statute of Limitations Impact My Ability to File a Lawsuit for a Car Crash?
Each state has its own statute of limitations ranging from as little as one year to file to as long as six years from the date of the accident. Further, if a passenger died as a result of the car accident, the statute of limitations may be longer. However, Pennsylvania follows the two-year rule for car accidents which means you need to act promptly.
You may think having a year or more to file a car accident lawsuit is plenty of time; however, each step of the process can be complicated and depending on the severity of your injuries or the circumstances of your case, you may need legal assistance. Memories of the accident may fade over time and a thorough investigation will be needed to prove who is at fault for the accident. Proving your personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death claim will likely rely on witnesses and witness statements. Witnesses can be much more difficult to track down and contact the longer you wait to file your auto accident claim.
If you are not in Pennsylvania and you are unsure about your state’s statute of limitations and what deadlines apply to you, a personal injury lawyer can help answer questions about time limits on filing your car accident claim.
How Do I File a Car Accident Complaint?
The first step in a car accident lawsuit is to file the formal complaint. A complaint is a document that describes how the accident occurred and what you lost as a result of the collision. Further, you will be asked to identify who you believe to be the liable for the accident and what compensation you think is owed to you.
Though this seems straight forward enough, not gathering the right information or not moving quickly enough can hinder your ability to get the compensation you deserve. And if you do not have enough documentation for your losses, you can undersell your total damages.
A car accident lawyer will be able to help you draft the complaint by gathering evidence. Evidence can include police reports, photos, insurance complaints filed by all involved parties, security and traffic camera footage, eyewitness accounts, and physical data.
This evidence will be important for a variety of reasons not only to document your losses, but to help address liability.
What Happens If I File a Personal Injury Claim After the Statute of Limitations?
In order to recover any compensation in a car accident claim, you need to adhere to your state’s statute of limitations. Otherwise, you might forgo your ability to recover any financial compensation if you fail to file before the deadline. Further, accepting a settlement from the at-fault party or insurance companies also diminishes your ability to seek additional compensation or file a lawsuit against the negligent driver.
What Compensation is Available After an Auto Accident?
In your initial complaint, you will need to include what compensation you believe you are entitled to. While this will depend on a variety of factors including the driver’s behavior and the severity of the collision and your injuries, car accident victims often can recover compensation for the following losses.
Medical expenses are the most important cost many of us consider in a car accident. The average cost of hospitalization for a car accident victim is $57,000 based on national fees.
Because of the magnitude of the expenses, your car insurance will likely cover some of that cost–but likely not all of it. You may be entitled to reimbursement for the medical expenses you had immediately following the accident prior to filing the complaint and those amassed after.
Further, if your medical provider prescribes any long-term care, you may be able to recover future medical bills for that long-term care, physical therapy, rehabilitation, surgeries, medications, counseling and more.
Loss of Income
Following the accident, you may be out of work to recover. However, for some car accident victims, they are never able to return to work, or have suffered such severe injuries that they no longer can be employed in the position they once held and thus, have a reduced earning capacity.
You may be entitled to lost wages, lost future wages, compensation for lost opportunities to work and more.
We often think of medical expenses as the primary loss to be recovered in a car accident lawsuit. However, you may also be able to recover the losses associated with property damage.
This includes the loss of replacing your vehicle if it has been totaled or repairing it, replacing any accessories within the car, etc. Further, if you have personal property that was damaged in the accident like a phone, computer, etc. you may be able to recover compensation for those items.
Other damages you might be entitled to include:
In the tragic event a passenger dies as a result of injuries of the car accident, the family may be entitled to compensation for wrongful death, funeral costs and burial costs.
Not only injuries are physical. Sometimes, you may experience mental and emotional pain after an auto accident. You may be able to collect compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment in daily activities, or loss of companionship.
If the at-fault driver was so grossly negligent, the court may hold them accountable for punitive damages.
What Should I Do to Protect My Personal Injury Claim?
The National Highway Traffic Administration estimates that a car accident happens every 60 seconds, equating to approximately 5.25 million accidents across the United States each year.
Being in any car accident can be an overwhelming experience and it’s understandable that time can slip away. It’s important to protect the evidence right away before it disappears. Keep these few things in mind after an accident.
- First, call 911 and seek medical attention for yourself. Even if your injuries seem minor, they may become worse as time passes.
- Take down the names and badge numbers of any officers who reported to the scene
- A representative for the other party’s insurance company may call to speak to you about the accident; do not give any statements to their insurance representatives until you have spoken with an experienced lawyer.
- If possible, take photos of the scene record any injuries or vehicle damage (if your car, motorcycle or bike were involved)
- Contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you are still in the process of getting medical treatment an experienced car accident lawyer can help you navigate this challenging time and guide you through the next steps
How Do Circumstances of the Accident Impact Compensation?
Though each state is different, if there are extenuating factors at play in your case such as the other driver being intoxicated, you may be able to seek both a lawsuit for the personal injury and for the at-fault driver’s deliberate failure to meet a standard of care.
However, proving these factors is often very much reliant on how much time has passed following a motor vehicle accident, which is why you need to act promptly to secure and maintain evidence.
Can Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Help Me In My Car Accident Case?
If you or a loved one were recently involved in a car accident and are now asking, “How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a car accident?” Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help.
Our personal injury lawyers have handled car accident cases from multi-million dollar wrongful death suits to truck accidents, and traumatic brain injuries.
Our lawyers can help you in the formal complaint process and assist in the following aspects of your case:
- Negotiate with the insurance companies.
- Calculate your total damages.
- Represent you in court, if necessary.
Whether you have developed severe injuries since the accident or the insurance company denied your claim, contacting a car accident attorney as quickly as possible will help preserve your case and help you get the compensation you deserve.
When you work with Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, our firm can determine the cause of the accident including distracted driving, drowsy driving, drunk driving, aggressive driving, speeding, poor weather conditions, and more.
What Can Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Do For Me and My Family Following a Car Crash?
Here are some of the things a Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys auto accident attorney will do to build your case
- Visit and document the accident site, take photographs
- Obtain police reports of the accident
- Identify, locate and interview witnesses
- Hire expert witnesses which may include medical, engineering and forensic experts
- Reconstruct the accident
Once we gather all the evidence and facts, we build a strategy unique to your accident case because every case is different. Our experience and expertise in car accidents and personal injury law allows us to identify and account for these nuances. This is how our expert accident attorneys build your case and create the best possible strategy.
Contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys For a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, know that time is of the essence to file a lawsuit. While you are focused on recovery, a car accident attorney from Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys will work diligently to obtain the compensation you deserve.
We don’t take a penny unless we win
Our team of expert accident attorneys only takes a fee if we win you a settlement. You do not owe anything before your case is settled and it costs nothing to talk to one of our attorneys.
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, we believe that all people should have equal access to the justice system, regardless of income.
Our experienced car accident lawyers do not charge a fee for our services until we win your case. We cover all the upfront costs so that you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket. Our contingency fee (a percentage of the accident settlement or verdict we obtain for you) will never exceed the total amount paid to you.
Call today or use our online form to schedule your no obligation, free consultation.