Car Accident Deadlines to Know 

Posted by Impact Legal | Feb 02, 2022

Everyone who has ever been in an auto accident knows about the overwhelming stress that generally comes with such an incident. There may be injuries involved, your automobile might be severely damaged, and there are a great many details that have to be handled. In addition to facing the potential trauma caused by the collision itself, you'll be obligated to organize all the post-accident requirements that will follow. Amidst all of this, you'll need to keep in mind the deadlines associated with your accident. These deadlines include the length of time you have to report the accident to your own insurance company, in addition to the length of time you have to notify the police about the accident and other potential deadlines you may need to know. We'll discuss these in this blog. 

If you have been in an accident, give our car accident lawyers a call today. We'll help you keep track of all of the deadlines and requirements you need to know in order to physically and financially recover. You can set up your free initial consultation by calling or texting 602-345-1818 or filling out this online form.  

Insurance company deadlines

The deadline for filing a car insurance claim depends on your insurance policy. The amount of time you have between the actual occurrence of the accident and the time you begin the claims process varies from policy to policy. Depending on the specific kind of coverage you have with your insurance company, and the details involved with the accident, the claim could be filed with your own insurance company or with the other party's company. 

To get the insurance claim process started, you can call an accident lawyer to help you, or can communicate with the insurance company yourself. If you choose to communicate with the insurance company without an attorney, ensure that you know what you are doing. Communicating with the insurance company can be tricky, and if you do it the wrong way, it could jeopardize your injury settlement. If your case is complicated or you've suffered a lot of damages, you should think about consulting with a lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you communicate and negotiate with the insurance company to ensure that you get the compensation you're entitled to. 

You'll need to let the insurance company know that you've been involved in an accident and that you intend to file a claim for accident injuries, damage, or both of these. In most cases, you can get the ball rolling by starting your claim online, but you can also make a direct phone call to the insurance company. With regard to reporting the accident to your insurance company, the rule of thumb is that it should be reported at the very earliest opportunity. However, do not feel pressured to report it while you are on the scene of the accident. Feel free to get your thoughts together or call an attorney, who will handle the communication for you.  

In many cases, insurance companies do not have specific requirements or time windows when you would be obligated to file your insurance claim. Instead, most policies have verbiage which states that you must file your claim within a 'reasonable amount of time' or in a prompt manner. Be sure to review your policy and adhere to its specific requirements. There are some states, most of which have no-fault insurance, that have passed laws specifically addressing how long someone has before they must inform the insurance company. As an example, New York state is one of those no-fault states, and it requires that any insurance claim be filed within 30 days of the accident unless there is some compelling reason for not doing so.

Read 5 ways the insurance company is trying to trick you.

In any case, each insurance company will have its own rules, and these will be clearly outlined in the policy itself. If you don't follow the requirements stated in the policy, and fail to report the accident within policy guidelines, it could be much more difficult to report the accident at a later date. 

You could put yourself in a vulnerable situation by not reporting the accident promptly, especially if another party to the accident eventually discovers they have whiplash. In this case, they may try to make a claim against your insurance policy, and it might be very difficult to have that honored by the insurance company if it was not reported within their stated guidelines. 

Most insurance companies will require you to inform them about all accidents, regardless of the seriousness of the accident. The only exceptions to this rule would be an accident that is very minor, and which involves no other parties. This can happen for example, if you scraped your car against a building or a fence, and received no injuries in the incident.

Why you should file your claim as soon as possible

If you've been in an automobile accident, getting insurance claims started as quickly as possible will be to your benefit. This is because any evidence will be much easier to gather from the accident scene, and the investigation itself will prove to be more effective. Any witnesses to the accident will still have the events fresh in their memories, and details of the accident will be clearest in the minds of everyone involved. On top of all that, the faster you get your insurance claim filed, the sooner you will receive compensation for your accident injuries and property damage.

Deadlines for reporting an accident to the police

The authorities have to be informed immediately if there is any serious car accident involving injuries to people, or if any extensive property damage has occurred. Police need to investigate the accident scene, and if you are involved in such an accident, you need to wait until the police arrive at the scene. If the accident happens to be less severe, you should still contact the police and let them choose whether or not they will come to the scene. In some cases of minor accidents, you can simply report the accident at a local police station. Even in this case, it's best to make that accident report as soon as possible following the occurrence of the accident.

Here's a previous blog about whether you should call the police after a minor accident. In it, we discuss the laws of both Arizona and New Mexico when it comes to accident reporting. 

Deadlines for filing a lawsuit

Generally speaking, claims for reimbursement following a car accident will be managed by the appropriate insurance company. If a lawsuit should be filed, the deadline for making that claim will be identified in the specific state's statute of limitations. The statute of limitations will always list guidelines for taking any kind of legal action against another party. Concerning automobile accidents, there will be a specific deadline for making any kind of personal injury claim, and there will be another deadline for making a claim for damage to your vehicle or any other property involved.

In Arizona, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases, like car accidents, is two years. ARS § 12-542. In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for car accident claims is three years.

The time frame on any of these deadlines will begin from the date the accident occurred in most cases. If you fail to file a claim before the deadline, it will be very unlikely that any court will give credence to your claim, and you will be unable to receive any compensation. If you're thinking about filing a claim after having been involved in an auto accident, you should consult a good car accident attorney to find out the statute of limitations appropriate for your state. This is the best way to make sure that you can legally file a claim before the state's specified deadline. 

If you've been in an accident and need to file a claim, give our auto accident lawyers a call or text at 602-345-1818 if you're in Arizona or 505-386-2807 or if you're in New Mexico. You may also fill out this form to request your free initial consultation

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