If I was involved in a minor “fender bender”, does the person that I hit have a time limit as to how long they can seek medical attention claiming it was from the accident?

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If I was involved in a minor “fender bender”, does the person that I hit have a time limit as to how long they can seek medical attention claiming it was from the accident?

The police were called and I did receive a ticket. The other lady drove off after the police were done with the report, and to my knowledge requested no medical attention.

Asked on April 30, 2013 under Personal Injury, Illinois

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Auto accident injuries might not manifest themselves immediately after an accident.  It is not uncommon for the injury to manifest itself days or weeks later.  The more time that elapses after an accident without medical treatment will have an adverse impact on the credibility of the claim filed with the at-fault party's insurance carrier.  After an auto accident injury manifests itself, if there is little or no medical treatment, this will also have an adverse impact on the claim because the at-fault party's insurance carrier will claim that the party must not have been seriously injured.

The time for claiming an injury from an auto accident will depend on the statute of limitations and facts of the case.  Illinois has a two year statute of limitations in an auto accident/personal injury case.  This means that a lawsuit seeking compensation for the injury must be filed within two years of the date of the accident or the injured person's rights in the matter will be lost forever.  Realistically, if the person does not seek medical treatment for two years, she won't have any case.

Usually the person files a personal injury claim shortly after the accident. After completing medical treatment which may last a few months or longer depending on the type of injury, the person tries to settle the case with the at-fault party's insurance carrier.  If the case is settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed and that is the end of the matter.  If the case is NOT settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, the injured party files a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party.  In most cases, no lawsuit is filed because the case is settled with the insurance carrier as mentioned above.  If a lawsuit is filed and you are served with a summons and complaint (the complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons), just refer the matter to your insurance carrier.  Your insurance carrier will handle the case for you and provide you with an attorney at no cost to you.  Again, this probably won't happen because most cases are settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier without filing a lawsuit.  Don't worry about it.

The property damage is separate from the personal injury claim and is usually resolved early in the case.  Your insurance carrier will pay for the damage (cost of repairs) to the other car.


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