If you are the victim of a car accident, you may be wondering how long after the accident you may claim injury. Determining the right claim timeline for your case is important, as it may impact the amount of compensation you receive and when you receive it.
Most car accident claims are resolved within the first year after the incident, without requiring a lawsuit. That said, to claim compensation successfully you need to take into consideration various timelines, including the legal statutes of limitations, the timelines imposed by the complexity of the accident or the resulting injuries, and, finally, your own needs that may vary from receiving compensation as soon as possible to receiving the maximum compensation you can—even if it takes time.
Reporting the Accident to the Police and Insurance Company
Colorado law requires you to report a car accident to the police immediately. At the scene of the accident, the police will file a police report if there are physical injuries of any party involved, if any of the involved parties fail to provide proof of an insurance policy, or if the property damage involved seems to exceed $1,000.
If for any reason it is impossible to file an immediate police report, you must file an online report with the Colorado DMV within 60 days of the accident .
Reporting the accident to the police is not the same as claiming injury. However, having a police report for the accident is crucial for submitting and documenting successfully an injury claim: insurance companies will not accept your claim for personal injury without one.
Also note that, even if you are not ready to file a claim, you may be required to report the incident within a few days to your own insurance company or to the party at fault. Many car insurance companies require that you report accidents within 3 days.
Legal Statutes of Limitation for Car Accidents in Colorado
A statute of limitations is the time limit after which a civil action to claim personal injury compensation is no longer possible. In the case of car accidents, it is the maximum time between the accident and the moment the injured party initiates a legal proceeding.
In Colorado, car accidents have a longer statute of limitations than most other personal injuries, for which you have two years to claim injury. The statute of limitations for personal injury and for property damage due to motor vehicle accidents is 3 years and begins immediately after the accident.
Therefore, if you are the victim of a car accident and want to claim compensation from the liable party, you have a maximum period of three years to do so. If you file later than this time limit, the insurer has the right to reject your claim.
Complex Car Accidents Require More Time to Prepare a Claim
As a rule of thumb, the more complex the case, the longer it may take you to claim compensation. Simpler cases only involve property damage and follow a rather typical resolution process. Complex cases may involve serious physical injury or even death and usually require more time to investigate and document damages.
Car Accidents Involving Property Damage Only
Car crashes involving only property damages are the most common motor vehicle accidents. They are simple to settle as expenses are clear and easy to evaluate, especially if the person at fault admits their liability.
Car accidents without anyone getting hurt are one of the most common personal injury claims that can be resolved within weeks. You can claim compensation for such accidents immediately, expecting the case to be resolved as soon as within 1-2 weeks, with a total car loss claim taking up to one month to finalize.
Even so, you are well-advised to hire an attorney experienced in car accidents, as this will both increase your chances of receiving fair compensation and protect you against any claims.
If You Suspect Whiplash
If you were in the car at the moment of the crash, you may be suffering from whiplash or other physical damage that is not visible immediately after the crash.
In such cases, it may be preferable if you wait a few days before you claim compensation so that you can include in your claim any medical expenses that might occur later.
Vehicle Accidents Involving Physical Injuries
The complexity of a case increases immediately when a traffic accident results in an injury that requires medical attention. Accidents resulting in serious physical injury or death constitute complex claims that are rarely resolved in less than one year. As medical expenses add up in time, you may want to wait until the full financial and non-financial impacts of the injury are fully determined to include them in your claim.
Documenting medical expenses can be time-consuming and could mean that you will submit your claim later rather than sooner. Because you are required to prove the cause and the severity of your injuries, you will need to gather a full medical record proving that your injury is related to the accident and not pre-existing, explaining why you needed treatment, getting an expert medical evaluation, etc.
Other Factors That May Delay Injury Claim Submission
Documenting a high compensation vehicle accident involves getting witness statements while events are still fresh, collecting photos or videos of the incident scene if they exist, asking for the police report, collecting evidence, and more. Depending on the case, this can take from a few days to several weeks, resulting in a longer time before you are ready to file your claim.
Another factor that may complicate your claim is when there are several at-fault parties, such as in cases of accidents involving a commercial truck , where the at-fault party may include the driver, the truck company, the maintenance company, the manufacturer, and more. Documenting a claim against multiple at-fault parties is more complicated and can get you closer to the statute of limitations.
Filing a Claim When Compensation Is Urgent
When the victim needs compensation fast, they will file their claim earlier, accepting that the compensation could be lower due to less adequate documentation or to lower medical expenses being included in an early claim.
On the other hand, if it is more important to receive maximum compensation, a car accident victim could take more time to prepare a robust case and file the claim later. A lawyer experienced in car accidents will help you determine the best option for you.
Additionally, hiring a lawyer to handle your claim, especially when it is complex, can let you focus on your recovery rather than worrying about paperwork and stressing over deadlines. Your attorney will help you file the claim timely with the most chances of getting the compensation that will satisfy you.
There are several ways a car accident attorney can help you get a compensation check in your mailbox in a timely manner:
- Your lawyer knows what the motions are and when to initiate them. They will avoid doing things too early or too late, taking your best interest in mind. They will also protect you from missing deadlines, skipping steps, or gathering insufficient data.
- If you claim compensation for physical injury, a car accident injury lawyer will ensure that you take the necessary medical examinations timely to support your claim about physical injury, medical expenses, profit loss, or compensation for lost abilities and interrupted activities. This is crucial in getting fair compensation for the suffered injuries and damages.
- A lawyer will take into consideration your needs and expectations and plan your claim accordingly. If you are in dire need of compensation, you may prefer early negotiations and a rapid settlement. If your priority is getting maximum compensation even if it takes longer, they will plan with you a different course of action.
The combined years of experience of Ross Ziev and the legal team at Help in Colorado mean that your chances of success in getting a fair settlement are increased. We have acquired millions of dollars in settlements and jury verdicts for our clients and you won’t have to pay us anything out of your pocket until we have won your case.
Initial consultations with Help in Colorado are free and conducted with absolute confidence. Contact Help in Colorado, call us at (303) 351-2567, or visit our offices at 6795 E. Tennessee Ave. #210, Denver, CO, 80224 to discuss your case. We will listen to you, help you understand the law, and discuss your options.