When it comes to filing a personal injury claim, it’s less about how long you can wait and more about how long you have. Typically, the laws in most states provide at least a year for you to file your claim. However, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to get things started.
Personal injury claims require work before filing to get the maximum amount of compensation available for your case. That work does take a good chunk of time to complete thoroughly. If you choose to wait until the last minute, you risk putting your settlement at risk.
Do I Need to Wait to File a Personal Injury Claim?
There’s no waiting period if you want to file a personal injury claim. You can begin the process right after your accident occurs. However, it’s best not to rush it. The last thing you want to do is file too early. While this may seem counterintuitive given that filing near the deadline isn’t optimal either, the truth is that you want to file at the optimal time.
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What Is the Optimal Time to File a Personal Injury Claim?
Each state has their own statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim. For example, South Carolina gives you three years from the date of the injury to file a claim. Other states only give victims two years. Generally, the best time to file a claim is when you have:
- Accurately assessed all your sustained damages after your accident and figured out a concrete total for your financial compensation
- Consulted with a personal injury attorney that can represent your best interests
- Finished all medical treatment
- Gathered all the evidence necessary to have a solid case for your claim
Once you have all these completed, then you should file a claim. If you file too early and settle too fast, you may end up missing out on the compensation you now will never get. Once a claim gets settled, the defense and the insurance companies have no obligations to pay you any further.
How Can I Know the Statute of Limitations in My State?
The best way to look up how much time you have to file your personal injury claim is by checking the official code of your state. Most states generally have two years to file a claim. Some states can have as long as six years and others as short as one. Always double-check, and when in doubt, contact a personal injury lawyer for further assistance.
What Happens If I Pass the Statute of Limitations?
If you pass the statute of limitations for your personal injury claim, there is little you can do to recover financial compensation. While some states do provide exceptions here and there, these aren’t common and very difficult to obtain. This is why it’s imperative to keep track of how much time has passed.
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Start Building a Strong Case for Your Claim As Soon As Possible
Whatever accident caused your personal injury, you’ll want to get medical attention as soon as you can. While you shouldn’t blindly rush into filing your claim, you don’t want to wait too long to get treatment. Insurance companies may see that as a sign that your injuries and damages weren’t that serious.
You’ll also want to start gathering police reports, medical records, witness testimonies, and other evidence fast. Unfortunately, evidence often deteriorates quickly, so time isn’t on your side. It’s understandable that after an accident, it’s hard to move forward with these steps. However, you need to understand that the longer you let time pass, the harder it becomes to get fair compensation.
How Long Will It Take to Get My Settlement?
After you file your personal injury claim, you and your lawyer will have to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. The negotiating process can take as little as two weeks to as long as several months. It all depends on your case and how willing the insurance company is to pay out your settlement for what it’s truly worth.
While there is a statute of limitations for filing a claim, there’s no such statute for how long it takes to settle your claim. This means that, should your claim end up going to trial, you could end up waiting even longer to get the money you deserve.
Don’t worry too much about whether your claim will go to court. The American Bar Association (ABA) states that only a few personal injury claims ever go to trial. The vast majority will settle out of court in a reasonable amount of time, especially if you have strong legal representation working on your behalf.
Consult With a Personal Injury Attorney Today
The National Safety Council’s (NSC) injury facts state that accidental injury is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. After sustaining injuries from your accident, the last thing you need is legal stress hindering your recovery. Reach out to an attorney as soon as possible to help you build your case and file your personal injury claim on time while you rest and focus on healing.