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How Long Should You Wait Before Reporting a Car Accident?

— March 11, 2020

Whether you’re exhausted by the damage or not, you must claim your insurance on time. And, if the accident was caused due to another person’s negligence, you need to file a lawsuit as quickly as possible.

An accident can happen anytime with anyone. Whether you’re on your way home from work, driving on a road trip, or are just going shopping, you may end up facing a car accident.

No matter how minor it is, an accident is always traumatic. You will find it difficult to decide what to do next due to the shock you receive from an accident. 

It might be your fault or the other person who was driving the car. Whatever it is, you must be swift in action when it comes to reporting a personal injury.

Continue reading this article to get some guidance about how long you should wait to report a personal injury following a car accident.

The Car Accident Statute of Limitations

After a car accident, you must report a personal injury to claim your insurance or damage as soon as possible. The time is limited for you to claim your compensation for the damages you faced, which is known as the car accident statute of limitations.

However, how fast your response should be to report injury depends on whether you’re claiming your insurance or filing a case for personal injury. 

Should You Always Report a Car Accident?

There are some instances where you don’t feel the urge to report a car accident, such as scraping your car door against a beam while backing out from the garage or the parking lot. 

In such cases, the estimated cost to repair the car can be the same or less than the deductible insurance money, meaning that there’s no need to report.

Also, if you often claim for insurance money, your provider may decide to raise the rate for you. However, you are suggested to claim the insurance if you need to pay a lot for minor damage. You can consult with a personal injury lawyer to get better guidance on what you should do.

When Should You File an Injury Claim

If you’re undergoing treatment for the injury you got from a car accident, you should not wait to file a claim. You should get the process started as soon as possible, whether it’s a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. 

When it comes to a lawsuit, there will be a certain deadline which you need to meet. This is particularly important if you don’t want to go for a settlement and are willing to take that matter to court. 

After the accident, don’t hesitate in visiting the doctor to see if you have any internal injuries or not. Collect all the necessary reports like a blood test or x-ray report, and file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.

How to Deal With the Insurance

Claiming insurance following a car accident can be a bit of a challenging task. Sometimes, insurance providers don’t want to believe you as you show little or no sign of injury from the accident.

It may happen in cases like whiplash, where injuries don’t show up immediately after the crash. In that case, you need to make a strong statement to claim insurance.

Remember, you should not wait for more than three days to report a car accident to your insurance company. If you’re still conscious after the accident, try to take some pictures, which will make your statement stronger.

If the other party’s insurance company questions you, never give any recorded statements. This is extremely crucial when you file a lawsuit.

Complications While Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

You may have the accident due to someone else’s negligence. In that case, you have 100% right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. 

However, as soon as you know you’re injured, you have to immediately start the procedure to meet the personal injury statute of limitations. 

Maintaining the time limit is extremely important as you will lose the right to file any case when the time is up, except in rare cases. Also, the time limit depends on the state you’re living in. For example, if you’re in California, you must file a lawsuit against the negligent party within two years from the date of the crash.

However, if anyone dies in that accident and you want to file the case on behalf of them, the time will start from the date of their death instead of the date of the accident.

Damage Awards in a Car Accident Lawsuit

People performing first aid on an injured man; image by Daniela Santos, via
People performing first aid on an injured man; image by Daniela Santos, via

The reason people file a car accident lawsuit is the recompenses they receive for their losses. The court usually orders a monetary damages award that compensates the victim of that accident.

You can easily understand how beneficial this financial compensation can be, particularly when you’re having treatment. It can cover your medical bills, health care expenses, lost wages, direct property damage, and much more.

All you need to do is to file the lawsuit in time. Any missed deadline could be costly for you.

When Can You Get an Extension to File The Lawsuit

You may still get a chance to file a car accident lawsuit after you miss the deadline. However, it totally depends on the severity of the accident.

For instance, if you are severely injured due to an accident that makes you unable to file a case or claim your insurance, the court may grant you an extension. However, you need to provide strong medical proof to get that facility.

You can also consult with your lawyer to find out if there’s an extension for other cases as well.


Dealing with the damage you get from a car accident is challenging, and things become more painful when you need to go through such legal procedures.

Whether you’re exhausted by the damage or not, you must claim your insurance on time. And, if the accident was caused due to another person’s negligence, you need to file a lawsuit as quickly as possible.

It’s best to make a car accident report within 24 hours of the accident. Do not miss the deadline as it will bring unnecessary hassle in the future.

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