Serious car accidents tend to take you by surprise. If you sustained serious injuries in the incident, you are likely suffering physically and reeling emotionally. As you try to pick up the pieces, how long you have to file an injury claim may be the last thing on your mind.
When you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you have limited time to file a claim if you wish to recover damages. The longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to win your case.
Making a Car Accident Report
Before initiating an auto accident injury claim, you need to report the collision. Several different reports will need to be made.
Note the following steps you may need to take:
- Get a police report: It is wise to call 911 from the accident scene, especially when you or other people have been seriously injured. When the police arrive, the officers will investigate the circumstances of the accident and ensure that all injured parties receive medical attention. An official police report is often required by insurance companies to file an injury claim.
- Report the car accident to your insurance company: You must call your own insurance company and inform them of the car accident as soon as possible after the collision. If you are incapacitated because of your injuries, ask a friend or loved one to call for you. Many insurance policies require that you report within 30 days. You will not be able to move forward with an injury claim later if you did not make this initial report to your insurance provider.
- File a report with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA): If your car accident involved injury, death, or property damage worth over $1,000 to “any one person,” you are required to file an accident report with the DFA within 30 days, regardless of who was at fault.
By making these reports, you lay the groundwork for filing your actual personal injury claim after the accident.
You Have a Limited Amount of Time to File Your Car Accident Injury Claim
Addressing your injuries and getting prompt medical attention is critical to making a full recovery after a car accident. Getting your car repaired so that you can get back into your daily routine is also important. However, the State of Arkansas has laws in place, setting limits on the amount of time you legally have to file a personal injury claim after a collision.
In most cases, you have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. This may seem like plenty of time, but it is never beneficial to procrastinate in such situations. If you fail to file your injury claim within the allotted time, you lose your lawful right to compensation for your physical pain and suffering.
Statutes of limitations are in place to preserve evidence and protect defendants from frivolous litigation years after an incident takes place.
Factors That May Impact the Statute of Limitations
In a motor vehicle accident claim, multiple factors can affect the statute of limitations. Depending on the circumstances of your car accident and who was involved, you may have more or less time to legally file an injury claim.
Factors that may impact how long you have to file a valid claim or car accident lawsuit include:
- When a government entity is involved in the accident claim: The statute of limitations may differ if you are pursuing a claim against a legal entity of the State of Arkansas.
- When a minor was injured in the car wreck: If the injured person was a minor, you may have additional time, beyond the usual 3-year statute of limitations, to file a personal injury claim.
- When your injury was not immediately apparent: Under the Arkansas discovery rule, if you were not initially aware of your injuries, the statute of limitations may be delayed.
The statute of limitations and all the rules that apply can be confusing. It is advantageous to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer before taking legal action. He or she can thoroughly prepare you for the claim process and ensure that you do not miss deadlines as you pursue financial compensation against the negligent parties.
Use the Statute of Limitations Wisely
In Arkansas, you have 3 years from the date of the accident during which you can file your car accident claim and pursue restitution for your injuries. In most cases, it is in your best interest to file your claim sooner rather than later.
Your claim is generally stronger when filed sooner – for several reasons:
- Filing a claim promptly will show that you took your car accident injuries seriously from the beginning, so the insurers will not be able to later claim that you made them up
- If you put off pursing your claim, the other driver’s insurance company may argue that you made your injuries worse by delaying medical treatment
- The longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult it will be for eyewitnesses and police responders to accurately remember the details of how the accident happened
It is understandable that some pressing matters may need to be taken care of before you are in the physical and emotional place to file your injury claim. Nevertheless, it is usually best to get the ball rolling as soon as possible in order to successfully recover compensation for your injuries.
Comparative Fault in Arkansas Car Accident Claims
Arkansas is a modified comparative negligence state, so even if you share some degree of responsibility for the traffic accident, you may still be entitled to file an insurance claim and receive a reduced amount of compensation from the other driver.
Under the comparative fault rule, percentages of liability are assigned to each driver who contributed to the crash. As long as you are found to be 49 percent or less at fault for the accident, you can pursue damages from the other parties.
A lawyer can help you to establish the facts of your case and walk you through your legal options in an effort to successfully resolve your claim.
Common Injuries in Car Accident Claims
When a collision involves injuries, it can be particularly devastating. Sadly, such car accidents are all too common. Suffering catastrophic injuries in a motor vehicle collision can negatively impact your quality of life for the foreseeable future.
Injuries often included in car accident claims include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Facial injuries
- Neck and chest injuries
- Broken or bruised ribs
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
- Dislocated joints
- Loss of limbs
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- Wrongful death
It is vital to seek a medical evaluation and treatment as soon as possible after a car accident injury. Your long-term prognosis may depend, in part, on how quickly your injuries were addressed. Further, if you wish to seek financial compensation for your claimed losses, your medical records will provide valuable evidence of the real extent of your injuries.
Potential Compensation in Auto Accident Injury Claims
A serious car wreck can be absolutely life-altering. The physical and emotional tolls of an incident can stay with you long after a car accident. When preparing to file your car accident claim, the goal is to seek enough compensation to make your life whole again.
It takes time to discover and count up all the damages to which you may be entitled, which may include:
- Current and future medical bills and other expenses
- Rehabilitation or in-home medical care
- Past, present, and future lost income
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Emotional distress, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Other out-of-pocket expenses related to the auto accident
A knowledgeable car accident attorney can help you evaluate the full extent of your losses and assign a monetary value to your claim – before time runs out. Thus, you will be able to pursue enough compensation to meet your current needs and ensure your future quality of life.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
A car accident lawyer can work to meet all the deadlines while also protecting your rights with your best interests in mind. The more serious your injuries are, the higher your losses could be – so you don’t want to lose out on your compensation by wasting precious time.
A practiced car accident attorney can advocate for your rights with the insurance company or in a trial, if necessary. Insurance adjusters are notoriously challenging to work with, possibly making the negotiations process drag on. Thus, uncooperative insurance providers can further complicate an already stressful situation.
Along with assessing your losses, a lawyer can handle all the necessary paperwork for your car insurance claim and interact with the insurance company on your behalf. This ensures that your case can be filed and settled on time.
A car accident lawyer may assist you by:
- Negotiating fair compensation
- Corresponding with the insurance company
- Submitting medical records for review
- Demonstrating the negligence and liability of the at-fault party
- Meeting all deadlines and statutes of limitations
- Reviewing settlement offers
- Making recommendations to you regarding settlement offers
- Filing your personal injury lawsuit
- Representing you during all court proceedings
Personal injury claims, not to mention the claims process itself, can be complex and time-consuming. Make things easier for yourself by letting a car accident attorney build a case that supports your claim to your accident-related expenses and losses.
Meet the Deadlines by Reaching Out to Car Accident Lawyers Who Care
Serious auto accidents can turn your life upside down. You may be dealing with difficult medical treatment, mounting medical bills, and significant vehicle damage – among other things.
The idea of filing a claim or pursuing a lawsuit may seem like too big of a burden to bear at this time. Trying to navigate the insurance and legal system can be a tiring and frustrating experience. But you are not alone when the car accident lawyers of Minton Law Firm help you through every step of the process.
As a former insurance adjuster himself, Attorney Justin Minton knows the intricacies of the insurance industry. In difficult insurance negotiations, Justin is especially equipped to handle any challenges that may come up, and he has made sure his legal team members are also ready to handle the complications.
Justin Minton’s legal team is dedicated to fighting for the rights of Arkansas car accident injury victims. At Minton Law Firm, we believe that every accident victim deserves a voice.
If you or a loved one has sustained significant injuries due to another driver’s negligence, time is of the essence. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we can put our legal resources to work on your behalf.
Call us today at 855-Xadjuster or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. A member of our legal team is standing by to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.