How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

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How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

Were you hurt in a car accident? You may have the right to demand compensation. But when and how you can do that depends on your situation. It’s best to talk with a lawyer about your car accident injury. Our Birmingham car accident lawyers at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, P.C. have years of experience helping individuals through the auto insurance claim process and personal injury lawsuits. We understand you might not have called a lawyer right away. Your accident may have been months or maybe over a year ago. Don’t panic—there may still be time to file a lawsuit. Give us a call at (205) 322-8880 to talk about your options.

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

There is almost always a limit on how long you have to file a lawsuit. The law gives you time to evaluate your case and decide whether to file. But the other person, who might get sued, shouldn’t have the possibility hanging over their head forever. That’s why Alabama has a statute of limitations for personal injury cases. Alabama Code Section 6-2-38 gives you two years to file a lawsuit based on personal injuries or death. While this may seem like a long time, we recommend getting in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.

What are the Most Common Car Accident Injuries?

Our car accident attorneys have helped individuals suffering from all types of car accident injuries. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re recovering from:

  • Whiplash
  • Neck Injuries
  • Back Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Concussion
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Chest Injuries
  • Broken Bones
  • Amputations
  • Scarring and Disfigurement

We’re also here for your family if you lost a relative in a crash. We can guide you through filing a wrongful death claim.

What if I Suffered a Car Accident Injury Over a Year Ago?

If you were hurt in a car accident in Alabama more than one year ago and haven’t received compensation, give us a call. Most likely, you haven’t missed the filing deadline yet, unless the at-fault party worked for a town, city, or county government at the time of the collision. After we talk, we’ll explain whether we believe you have a valid claim. If you do, we can get started right away. We’ll take steps to make sure you don’t miss the filing deadline and that you have the best possible chance of receiving compensation.

Young man sitting on couch with leg in a cast researching for lawyers on his phone

Are There Any Exceptions to Filing Deadlines?

The two-year clock starts running the day you get hurt. For car accidents, the deadline is usually two years from the date of the crash. But there are exceptions to that rule.

Age: If you were a minor at the time of the collision, you have two years from the date you turn 19 years old to file a lawsuit.

Mentally incapacitated/insanity: If you or a relative were mentally incapacitated at the time of the crash or the collision caused incapacitation, then you have two years from the date you become competent again.

Absence from the state: If the party responsible for your injuries is absent from Alabama during the two years, the time they’re gone may not count against you.

Claims against a government: If the party responsible for your injuries is a municipality, you have less time to file your claim.

You must file a written notice of claim against a town or city within six months or against a county within one year. If the administrative process doesn’t lead to compensation, then you may sue. When we first get to know you and investigate your case, we’ll consider all of these exceptions and advise you about whether you have more or less time to file. Whatever the case may be, we’ll move your claim forward as swiftly as possible. We know how important it is to receive compensation to pay your bills and avoid going into debt.

Don’t Confuse the Insurance Process with Filing a Lawsuit

It’s incredibly important that you not confuse the two-year statute of limitations with how long you have to notify the insurance company. After a car accident, it’s best to take certain steps:

  • Notify the police,
  • Gather information and take photos,
  • Get medical help,
  • Notify your insurance provider, and
  • Call a car accident personal injury lawyer.

We can guide you through the car accident claim process, which usually includes cooperating with an insurance adjuster and negotiating an insurance settlement. But if you hope to get an insurance payout right away, you have to give your insurance carrier notice of the crash as soon as possible. If you delay telling your insurance company for weeks or months, they can use the delay against you. They might even try to deny your claim.

We’ll take steps to make sure you don’t miss the filing deadline and that you have the best possible chance of receiving compensation.

What Can I Do if Someone Passed Away from a Car Accident?

If a car accident killed your parent, spouse, or child, we hope you’ll call us immediately. The wrongful death statute of limitations in Alabama is also two years. But your family is better off starting the claim process immediately. It’s generally much easier for us to secure evidence sooner rather than later. We’ll explain the wrongful death claim process, including who can file and who may receive compensation.

How Do I Start the Process of Filing an Injury Claim?

If you believe it’s time to file a car accident lawsuit, reach out to schedule a consultation. We’ll walk you through how to file a car accident claim. First, we’ll talk with you about your experience. To have the right to file a lawsuit, you must have been in a crash that someone else caused. You also must have been hurt. On a practical level, that means you went to the emergency room or your doctor and have medical records to prove your injuries. Next, we’ll contact the insurance companies involved. Once we represent you, we talk with the insurance adjuster, not you. If you need to answer questions or provide a statement, we’ll prepare you. We’ll keep gathering information. We collect and review as much evidence as possible because you have to prove you deserve compensation. We’ll need proof the other driver was a fault, and you were hurt. Finally, we’ll negotiate a settlement. Throughout this process, we’ll talk with you about settlement amounts for car accident injuries. Every case is different, and we’ll demand payment based on your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and other injuries. Throughout the claims process, we do the legwork, not you. We want you to focus on spending time with your family and healing.

What if I Miss the Deadline to File an Injury Claim?

If you miss the filing deadline, then you’ve lost the right to bring your case to court. You could file a lawsuit, but the other party will immediately file a motion to dismiss. The judge will grant their motion unless you can prove that some exception gives you longer than two years from the crash date to file. We highly recommend hiring a car accident injury lawyer to avoid this outcome. Even if you’re going through the insurance claim process and trying to negotiate a settlement, you may need to file a lawsuit before the deadline to protect this option. If the deadline passes and settlement negotiations break down, you may not recover compensation.

When Should I Contact a Lawyer?

We encourage every car accident victim to call an attorney immediately. Realistically, this often means calling after you’ve arrived home from the hospital. Or you may still be in the hospital if your recovery will take weeks or months. The sooner you have a lawyer on your side, the better. We immediately take over communicating with the insurer, which can help you focus on your recovery. We won’t let an insurance company push you into accepting a quick, low settlement offer. Maybe it’s been weeks or months since the crash. At this point, you might realize the insurance company might not be treating you fairly. You might worry you aren’t going to get the recovery you deserve. You still have time to give us a call and let us fight for you.

Call Our Alabama Car Accident Attorneys Today

Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, P.C. has decades of experience helping personal injury victims recover compensation. We’ve worked with individuals in all 50 states and have recovered over $900 million for our clients. Wherever you live, wherever you were hurt, we’re here for you. Contact us online or call (205) 322-8880 to set up a free consultation.


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