Often, people are unsure if there is a time limit to submit a claim for an injury that arises after a wreck. Read on and learn both the legal and practical answers to this question.
Injured accident victims frequently come into my Hickory office asking these questions, so I thought a blog post might help some of you.
Let’s say you are leaving Backstreet Bar & Grill and headed back towards downtown Hickory on HWY 127 when your car is rear-ended. You have some pain in your shoulder, and you go to your family doctor. She then sends you to get treatment from EmergeOrtho or OrthoCarolina. Let’s say you get conservative care like physical therapy, and they discuss the option of surgery with you, but you decide to just “live with the pain.”
A year goes by, and the pain still lingers. Now you are trying to decide if you should go back for more care, maybe surgery, and wondering if it is too late for your case against the negligent driver who rear-ended you. You might be wondering how much time you have to submit your medical expenses to the insurance adjuster? In this instance, we are really talking about the statute of limitations AND the credibility of the causal relationship.
Every type of case has a statute of limitations, meaning that your claim remains viable for a certain length of time. However, after that time expires, your claim is time-barred. Different states have different statutes of limitations, and some may even have different lengths of time depending upon who is the at-fault party.
For example, your chance to file a claim against a government agency like the Hickory Police Department may be shorter than filing a claim against a regular person.
In some instances, the amount of time you have to file changes based on the type of injury. A claim for the injuries like those described above is different than the length of time had the accident been fatal instead of resulting in a shoulder injury. An experienced injury lawyer can review the facts of the accident and provide a specific answer as to the applicable statute of limitations on your case.
That said, there is another issue of the causal relationship between the injury complaint and the event that caused it. In the example above, the doctor will likely say the treatment a year later is related to the accident because they had already established the injury with the earlier treatment and its ongoing nature. Still, an insurance adjuster or insurance defense lawyer will argue that some intervening event must have occurred and caused additional problems necessitating care, making it unrelated.
Bottom line, if you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, see your doctor for your injuries and an experienced injury lawyer for your legal case. Maintain your appointments, get the treatment you need, and keep your lawyer informed so they can keep you informed and make sure you get the money you are entitled to.