After a car accident, you're on the clock when it comes to seeking legal compensation for your damages. In the event you want to seek compensatory damages from the opposing party, you'll need to keep the statute of limitations in mind. Similarly, there are other deadlines that you may need to know following a car accident. When should you report the accident? Are you required to do so? Should you notify your insurance company immediately after? How does it all work?
In this article, we'll note the specific timelines you'll need to know after a car accident in Arizona or New Mexico. If you've been hurt in an accident, our lawyers can help you keep track of the important deadlines, communicate with the insurance company, and guide you on the dos and don'ts in a car accident case. To schedule a free, no-obligation case review and initial consultation with our car accident lawyers, call or text (602) 345-1818. If you prefer, you may fill out our online contact form, and we will reach out to you to schedule your free consultation.
When Should I Report the Accident to the Authorities?
In many instances, you may be required by law to report your accident to the authorities. Depending on your state, legal requirements will be different based on the degree of your accident. The degree of your accident, according to state law, is measured by a few elements, which we will discuss below.
Arizona law does not require an accident victim to personally report the accident. Even so, the authorities are required to file a written report if an accident involves an injury, death, or property damage greater than $1,000, or if a citation was given to any of the drivers involved in the incident.
You should notify the authorities regardless of the severity of the accident. While individuals are not required to report the accident to the cops themselves, failing to do so could result in the driver being charged with a hit and run. Our auto accident lawyers in Arizona recommend that after an accident you call the cops immediately. The responding officer will decide if an accident report should be written. An accident report will be an important piece of evidence if you decide to file a claim later.
In New Mexico, whether or not you are required to report an accident to the police depends on the specific circumstances. Depending on the extent of property damage or injury, you may be mandated to report the incident to the local authorities or submit a written report to the New Mexico Department of Transportation. If the accident involves bodily injury, death, or property damage greater than $500, you are required to report it to the local authorities by the “quickest means of communication,” according to NM Stat § 66-7-206. If the property damage is more than $1,000, a uniform crash report is required.
If you fail to report an accident, criminal charges for a hit and run may be the result. It's a good idea to call the authorities to the scene to avoid this potential repercussion.
When Should I File My Insurance Claim?
Insurance companies have different rules when it comes to reporting an accident. If you plan to seek compensation from the insurance company, sometimes the deadline to report is in as little as 24 hours following the accident. Be sure to follow your insurance policy when determining when and how to report your accident to the insurance company.
When Do I Have to File My Lawsuit?
After a car accident, you don't always have to file a lawsuit. Whether you should depend on what's happening in your car accident case. Your accident lawyer will advise you of the best route to go when it comes to determining if you should file a suit against an at-fault party.
Some situations where filing a lawsuit is necessary include:
- The insurance company is rejecting your valid claim
- The insurance company is trying to offer you a ridiculously low settlement that won't cover your expenses
- The accident was especially horrible, resulting in severe injury or death
- The at-fault party is denying responsibility
- You suffered from a pre-existing condition worsened by the accident
If you and your car accident lawyer do decide to file a lawsuit, you will need to adhere to the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations will dictate the timeline for taking 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 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.
When Should I Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?
You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. After reporting your accident and seeking medical care (even if you believe you feel fine), we recommend that you consult a car accident lawyer. In fact, it's completely free to set up an initial case review and consultation. If we think that you don't need a lawyer, we'll tell you. However, many times, having a lawyer on your side will prove to be the best decision. Insurance companies typically don't play fairly, and they'll use every tactic to try to decrease your settlement or diminish it completely.
Some reasons contacting a lawyer is in your best interest are that a lawyer can:
- Proving negligence
- Identifying and proving fault
- Increasing your compensation
- Protecting you from fault
- Protecting you from common insurance adjuster tactics to get you to settle for less
- Advising you on specifics with your case
- Communicating and negotiating with the insurance company and other involved parties
If you've been hurt in a car accident, we're here to help you get the compensation you need and deserve. To schedule a free consultation with our accident attorneys at Impact Legal, call or text (602) 345-1818. You may also fill out our online form here.
The information on our blog and website is for general informational purposes only, and it is not intended to serve as legal advice. For legal advice about your unique situation, call or text our car accident lawyers today.
We are located in Arizona and New Mexico. We serve clients in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Maricopa, and the entire state of Arizona. We also serve clients in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Roswell, Farmington, Los Alamos, Las Cruces, and the entire state of New Mexico.