How long do you have to file a claim for a car accident?

UPDATED: Jan 5, 2013

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How long do you have to file a claim for a car accident?

Asked on January 5, 2013 under Accident Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In terms of the law, the effective time limit for filing a claim for an automobile accident is defined by the statute of limitations, or time limit on how long you would have to sue. That is because once you can no longer sue (too much time has passed), there is no way to legally enforce your claim. (And note: since you want to leave yourself time to actually file a lawsuit if necessary, do NOT wait until the end of the limitations period--leave yourself at least 6 months time.) The statute of limitions for personal injury (i.e. injury to a person) is 2 years in your state; the statute of limitations for injury to personal property (e.g. your car) is 5 years. Therefore, you can--if you leave yourself the recommended 6 month "cushion" to file an action--take up to 1 1/2 years to file a claim for personal injury, or 4 1/2 years for property damage.

However, that's under the law. If submitting a claim to your own insurer, you will also be bound by any time limits built into your policy. Therefore, review your policy to see when you must submit claims. Any limits in the policy are enforceable as contractual terms to which you agreed.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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