What are the common deadlines in a car wreck lawsuit?
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, you will have several items on your mind. Things like seeking medical treatment, contacting insurance companies, and, if necessary, contacting funeral services. During all of this, it might not occur to you that there are certain deadlines in place that you will have to monitor in order to file a claim or file a lawsuit. This article will cover these, and a few other deadlines that you should be aware of in the event of a car accident.
Insurance claims are separate and distinct from filing a lawsuit and should be treated as such. Starting this process means informing your insurance agent, or another company representative, that you have been in an accident that requires filing a claim, covering vehicular damage, personal injuries, or both.
Typically speaking, car insurance companies will want you to promptly report an accident and get your claim started. Delaying this process can affect the insurance company's fact-finding process, as well as your ability to receive payments for repairs, medical costs, and other attending issues.
The deadline for filing, if one exists, is dependent upon the insurance company you work with. Many states have regulations in place to address this issue, with Alabama law stating that there is a two-year deadline from the time of the crash to the time where you file an insurance claim. Additionally, you would have to report the accident to the Alabama Department of Public Safety within 30 days if the accident caused injury or death, or it resulted in property damage that exceeds $250. In general, if you have to file one in a set amount of time, you might as well file the other, especially since the initial investigation will be more effective, with more reliable witness testimony, and the details and impact of your injuries will be clearer in mind.
Filing your lawsuit – Personal Injury and Property Damage
Like the filing of an insurance claim, in Alabama injured drivers have two years from the day of the accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury and property damage. This is more codified than the insurance claims statute of limitations. If you look at Alabama Code Section 6-2-38, it states generally in part (a) that “[an] action by a representative to recover damages for wrongful act, omission, or negligence causing the death of the decedent under Sections 6-5-391 and 6-5-410 must be commenced within two years from the death.” Parts (c) and (d) go more specifically into motor vehicle accidents, stating that within two years “action shall be begun against common carriers of property by motor vehicles subject to this article.”
One distinction to take note of is lawsuits filed only for vehicle damage. In these cases, according to Alabama Code section 6-2-34, you have six years to file against an at-fault driver.
Your personal injury lawsuit can help you recuperate several types of costs related to your car accident. You can earn money for economic damages like medical costs and lost wages, general damages like pain and suffering and loss of a loved one, and punitive damages that punish the other driver for their negligence. But again, these claims can only be earned if you file within the two year period, and it is best to file as early as possible.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident be mindful of these deadlines. The statute of limitations is particularly strict when it comes to filing suit for the damages you deserve, and it is essential to contact a local personal injury attorney to help you navigate this process.