November 22, 2023
There are few things more stressful than a car accident. If you were involved in one, chances are all you wanted to do afterwards was to go home and forget the whole thing happened. But if you were injured in the accident, there are some essential things you should take care of before going straight into recovery mode. One of those things is filing a personal injury claim with the insurance company.
How long after a car accident can injuries appear? How long do you have to report the accident? How soon can you file a claim after getting insurance? These are all important questions to be asking, particularly if you were not deemed to not be at fault for the accident.
Continue reading to learn about car insurance claim time limits and other valuable information surrounding car accident injuries. Remember that if any of this is too overwhelming, our personal injury firm is here for you. We are standing by 24/7 to answer your calls, and we won’t charge you anything until we win your case.
How Does the Auto Insurance Claims Process Work?
It can be difficult to know what to do after a car accident because of the trauma and shock of the incident. However, once the trauma and shock subsides, you will want to consider filing an auto insurance claim.
Before getting into how long after an accident you can claim injury, it’s important to understand how the claims process for car accidents works. If you jump into it without knowing what you’re doing, it could result in a denied claim, or worse, your claim could be time-barred.
Determining Fault for a Car Accident
After reviewing the police report (if there was one) and other evidence, the auto insurance company will determine which party is at fault for the car accident. In Indiana, you generally will only be eligible for a settlement from the other party’s insurance company if you are no more than 50% at fault for the accident. This is because Indiana is an at-fault state.
If you are deemed as being partially at fault for the car accident, and your percentage of fault is less than 50%, then your final settlement amount will be reduced by your percentage of fault for the collision. For example, if you were deemed as being 10% at fault and your final settlement amount is $50,000, then that amount would be reduced by 10% (or $5,000) to account for your role in the accident. This is because Indiana is governed by a system known as modified comparative negligence.
At-fault drivers (drivers who are more than 50% at fault for an accident) generally cannot recover any damages in Indiana. However, depending on their level of auto insurance coverage, and possibly even on the terms of their health insurance policy, they may be eligible for reimbursement of any medical costs they incur as a result of their car accident injuries.
If you know you were not at fault or only were partially at fault for an accident, you will want to file a claim with the other party’s auto insurer. You can avoid speaking to the insurance company by hiring a personal injury firm to handle the claims process for you. Not only will this make the aftermath of the accident much less stressful for you, but it will enable you to focus on your recovery so your life eventually can return to normal.
How long do you have to make an insurance claim after a car accident? We discuss car accident injury claim time limits in the next section.
How Long Do You Have to Report an Accident to Insurance?
In Indiana, you have two years from the date of a car accident, or two years from the date you discovered your injuries (or reasonably should have discovered them) to file your auto insurance claim.
If you’re a procrastinator, this car insurance claim time limit may make you happy; however, an auto claim is one place where procrastination almost never results in a favorable outcome. We recommend getting medical treatment and filing your auto insurance claim as soon as you can.
How many days do you have to report an accident? Can you report a car accident after 24 hours? Can you report a car accident a week later? Can you report an accident a month later? While it’s generally not crucial that you report your car accident to the insurer immediately following the accident, you should aim to file your claim within one to two weeks from the date of the accident.
Why Is It a Good Idea to File Your Auto Claim Early?
If you’re wondering why we recommend filing your auto claim so early when the deadline is two years, it’s because the longer you wait, the higher the likelihood is that your claim will be denied.
Let us illustrate with an example. Suppose you were in a car accident that resulted in a whiplash injury, and a couple months later, you are rear ended by a car while riding your bike. If you proceed to file your auto claim after the second injury, the insurer could deny your claim on the basis of not being able to confirm whether your injury was caused by the car accident or bike accident.
Working with insurance companies day in and day out, we can say with confidence that if you give an insurer reason to doubt the veracity of your claim, they will reject it, or at the very least, lowball you. Filing your claim early is the most reliable way to ensure your claim is properly considered.
Remember that hiring a personal injury attorney prior to filing your claim is ideal, as people often say things to insurers that end up hurting their claims. With an attorney by your side, you’re unlikely to make such mistakes.
How Long After a Car Accident Can Injuries Appear?
It is common for parties to falsely assume they were not injured in a car accident if they have no evident injuries or feel no pain following it. However, car accident injuries can take some time to surface because accidents tend to flood our bodies with adrenaline, resulting in masked pain.
If you’re wondering how long you have to make an insurance claim if your injuries did not emerge until a significant amount of time had passed since your accident, know that filing early is still recommended.
Many report becoming aware of their injuries days, weeks or even months after their car accident. Insurance companies understand this happens, but by failing to file your claim early, you essentially are providing them with the justification they need to potentially deny your claim. To be safe, file your claim early, and if you need to, you can work with your attorney and medical providers to provide the insurer with new information about your injuries as it comes to light.
Is It Necessary to See a Doctor After Your Car Accident?
Being that it’s generally impossible to predict whether you’ll be suffering from car accident injuries down the road, a surefire way to gain clarity about your injuries is to schedule a visit with your doctor after your car accident. This way, there will be documentation to prove the nature and severity of your injuries to the insurance company should injuries later emerge. X-rays and scans also may be able to detect injuries you don’t yet feel, allowing you to start treatment sooner than if you were to wait for the injuries to become apparent.
If you have evident injuries, you may be wondering whether to visit the ER after your car accident. In general, it is never a bad idea to visit the emergency room, both from a claims perspective and medical perspective. By visiting the ER, you will demonstrate to the insurer that your injuries were serious enough for you to make a trip to the hospital, which ultimately could help you receive a fair car accident settlement.
Put simply, no matter when your car accident injuries appear, visiting a medical provider and filing your auto claim in a timely fashion is of utmost importance if you hope to recover any compensatory damages from the other party’s insurance company.
But these two things will not be enough to secure a favorable settlement. You will also need to follow through with the treatment plan you’re provided by your doctor. If you claim you’re injured, but fail to take action to get better, the insurer could doubt the validity of your claim.
One thing we cannot stress enough is: never downplay your injuries. Be honest about the pain you’re experiencing to your personal injury attorney, medical providers and insurer. Downplaying your injuries can result in a downgraded settlement or no settlement at all.
FAQs Related to How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim
Navigating car insurance claim time limits can be a challenge, particularly if there’s a lot going on in your life, but we hope this article has provided you with concrete information surrounding how long after a car accident you can claim injury. If there’s any information we haven’t touched on, or if you’d like to learn more about the claims process, check out our FAQs below.
How soon can you file a claim after getting insurance?
Your auto insurance policy is effective upon the policy start date, which usually is listed on your insurance card.
That said, if you are not the at-fault driver, your insurance policy start date generally will be irrelevant, since you will be filing your claim with the other party’s auto insurance company.
On the other hand, if the other party is uninsured or underinsured, you may have to go through your own insurance company to receive the difference in compensatory damages. All Indiana auto insurance policies are required to include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (unless the policyholder rejects it in writing), so if the other party’s insurance coverage was insufficient in covering your damages, you may have to partially go through your own insurer to get what you’re owed.
How long after a car accident can I sue?
The car accident injury claim time limit is not different for suing the other party. If you plan to sue the other party for your car accident, you still will have two years from the date of the accident, or two years from the date you discovered your injury (or reasonably should have discovered it), to file your claim.
It’s worth noting that the claims process can take longer than two years in some cases. This is not a problem, so long as the initial lawsuit was filed within the two-year time limit.
Most people will not need to resort to suing the other party in a car accident because the compensatory damages being offered to them by the insurer are sufficient. However, if you believe the compensatory damages are not sufficient in compensating you for your injuries and pain and suffering, then you may wish to speak with your attorney about bringing a lawsuit.
How long does an insurance claim take?
There is no way to gauge exactly how long an insurance claim will take to settle, since every car accident injury is different and every insurer has a different process. It could take anywhere from a few days to a year or longer.
Take the example of someone who’s suffering from severe neck and back injuries as a result of their accident. Their doctor may recommend six months of physical therapy or chiropractic care. Generally, the insurer will wait until treatment has concluded to make a settlement offer.
There also are other factors that could impact how long your insurance claim will take. For instance, if the insurer is offering a below average car accident settlement, then your attorney may need to spend more time negotiating with the claims adjuster to secure for you a settlement that’s more fair.
Does health insurance cover car accident injuries?
Whether health insurance covers car accident injuries depends on several factors.
First, if you were not at fault for the car accident, then you generally will not need to go through your health insurance for medical treatment; you will go through the other party’s insurer. If you do use your health insurance for medical visits, then you likely can get reimbursed for any costs you incurred by the other party’s insurer. Just make sure to keep your receipts.
Secondly, if you are at fault, and you have medical payments coverage (also known as Medpay), you generally will be able to use that to pay for any medical treatment you receive for your injuries. Only if your auto policy does not fully cover the medical treatment you need or if your auto policy only has liability coverage will you need to use your health insurance policy to cover car accident injuries.
If you plan to use your health insurance to cover car accident injuries, make sure you review the terms of your policy before seeking treatment or speak with your attorney.
What happens if someone lies about injuries in a car accident?
If someone lies about their injuries in a car accident to the insurer, and the insurer finds out, their claim likely will be denied. The same holds true if someone lies about their role in the accident.
While it generally is difficult for the insurer to prove someone is lying about their injuries from a car accident, there have been some people who hand them the proof they need. For example, if someone was claiming that their accident affected the mobility of their neck, and then that same person takes a photo for social media of them doing complex yoga poses, the insurer could cast doubt on the validity of their claim.
If you are making a claim, make sure it is truthful and that your activities after the accident align with your story.
Is it necessary to call the police after a car accident?
Whether it’s necessary to call the police after a car accident depends on the severity of the accident. If an accident resulted in minor property damage and no apparent injuries, it may not be necessary to call the police. If an accident resulted in major property damage and apparent injuries, then calling the police generally is necessary.
If you are in doubt as to whether you should call the police after a car accident, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and call. Police almost always will create a police report of the car accident, which could help you during the claims process and possibly even expedite your claim.
Never miss a car insurance claim time limit by working with our firm.
At Hensley Legal Group, we specialize in personal injury claims of all kinds. We have navigated the car accident claims process on behalf of countless clients, and we have an excellent track record of securing for them settlements that are beyond favorable. Not only that, we will treat you like family while we’re doing it.
Car accidents are stressful enough. Don’t add to your stress by trying to tackle the claims process on your own. There are no downsides to working with us, as we’ll only charge you if we win your claim. In other words, you won’t pay anything up front, and only if we get you a settlement will we take a cut to cover our attorney fees and costs.
Give us a call today to learn how we can help you with your car accident personal injury claim. Our team is standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call. We look forward to speaking with you.