What Are Important Legal Deadlines after a Car Accident?

Posted on: February 22, 2022

The time after a serious car accident is hectic and disorienting enough without the thought that your chances of making things right might hinge on a very strict timeline. While dealing with the fallout of property damage and physical injuries, you must also remain aware that time is running out on your ability to seek damages through the courts.

Even when the courts do not become involved, damages that are covered by insurance claims must begin with the accident being reported to your insurance in a timely fashion.

Meanwhile, your immediate attention is needed to secure the documentation required to prove the time, location, and other details of your accident as well as official medical records that establish any physical injuries that resulted from the collision.

Below are some important, time-sensitive items with strict deadlines that may affect your ability to recover adequate compensation after a major car accident.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

When it comes to personal injury compensation, the most important action you can take after a car accident is to ensure that you have timely documentation of any injury that occurred as a result of the accident. It is of the utmost importance to have your injuries evaluated as soon after the accident as possible. This makes sense from a medical care perspective as well as from a legal one. If you wait to see a doctor, it may be used against you by the insurance agency or civil defendant to suggest that your injuries are not related to the crash at all.

One additional point to keep in mind is that your medical records must show that you took the injury seriously from start to finish. This means that receiving an initial medical assessment and diagnosis of your injuries is just the beginning. You must also show that you have made efforts to follow recommended treatments, keep follow-up appointments, and perform rehabilitation therapies. Another important way to prove the effects and costs of your accident-related injuries is to keep and produce contemporaneous notes on your injuries, symptoms, and the effects they have had on your ability to lead a normal life.

File an Accident Report within 10 Days

Car accidents often involve a law enforcement officer being called to the scene to create a police report that details the officers observations at the scene, any pertinent identifying and insurance information, and statements from all involved drivers and eyewitnesses. In some cases, circumstances prevent law enforcement from being available to report to the accident scene. When this happens, it is incumbent on the drivers to file an accident report with the state Department of Transportation. The official form is available in New Jersey from the New Jersey Department of Transportation and in Pennsylvania through PennDOT.

Drivers can be punished for failing to report an accident that results in a physical injury to any person or extensive property damage, meaning damage in excess of a certain amount, such as $500 in New Jersey. Even in accidents that do not involve injury or significant damage, drivers are legally obligated to exchange contact and insurance information. For this reason, it is useful to attempt to get law enforcement help, especially if you suspect that the other person is uninsured or is behaving uncooperatively.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

If you plan to seek an insurance claim to cover the costs of your injuries or property damage, you will need to notify your insurance company of the accident. In no-fault car accident states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, injured drivers are covered under their own insurance policy’s personal injury protection rider. Only in cases of extreme injury can you seek damages from the other driver.

Although it seems as though your own insurance company should take good care of you after an accident, the truth is insurance companies are in the business of limiting their payouts. A representative from your own insurance company may attempt to pass off a modest settlement offer. But how can you tell what amount is fair? An accident lawyer can offer advice on what amount will cover the current and future costs of your specific injuries, and they can also negotiate a settlement offer on your behalf. 

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Right Away

Although you can speak with a lawyer for advice at any point in the process, the sooner you get a legal professional involved, the better. An accident lawyer can secure time-sensitive evidence and provide timely advice throughout the process. Calling an attorney at the eleventh hour makes their job more difficult, particularly if the insurance company has dragged out the process long enough to put your case up against the statute of limitations to sue.

File Your Personal Injury Claim within the Two-Year Statute of Limitations

If you are going to sue for personal injury damages, you must do so before the statute of limitations runs out, lest your case be barred from court. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as in many other states, such cases must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. In a wrongful death case, the deceased persons family may be afforded two years from the date of the persons death, which may be a later date than that of the accident. Property damage must be filed within a six-year statute of limitations.

Middletown Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Assist Clients after Serious Accidents

If you were seriously injured or you lost a loved one to a serious car accident, you should be able to collect damages from the party at fault. The Middletown car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova can help you understand your rights to compensation after an accident that left you or a family member with serious injuries. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Ocean County, Sussex County, Neptune, Middlesex County, and Pennsylvania.