No matter how minor, car crashes are traumatic experiences. The shock from an accident may make it difficult to think clearly about what to do next or even mask a serious injury.

It’s imperative to act swiftly when reporting a personal injury after a car accident as you may have limited time to seek compensation for your damages. This is known as the statute of limitations, which is the window of time you have to bring a lawsuit against another party for negligence.

How quickly you must report an injury will depend on whether you are dealing with an insurance claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, read on to learn more about how to protect yourself legally in both instances.

Dealing with Insurance After an Accident

First, proving that you sought medical attention directly following the collision is critical in strengthening your claim. Certain aftereffects of a car accident such as whiplash may not be immediately apparent. The more time that elapses, the more difficulty you will have proving your injuries were a direct result of the accident and not something else.

When filing an insurance claim, be sure to:

  • Visit your doctor immediately following a car accident, even if you aren’t sure that you’re injured.
  • Never admit fault for the accident, even if you think you might be responsible.
  • Report the car accident to your insurance within 24 hours.
  • File a claim with your insurance as soon as possible if you’ve been injured and no later than 3 days after the accident.
  • Decline giving a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company.
  • Speak with an attorney before deciding whether to accept an insurance company’s settlement offer.
  • Return to the scene of the accident to take pictures and document what can be recalled, if possible.
  • Contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

When filing a personal injury lawsuit, you will still want to follow the steps outlined above. However, personal injury claims have a statute of limitations and the clock starts running as soon as you know you’re injured. Once the statute of limitations is up, you lose your right to seek compensation for your damages. If you suspect that your injuries are a result of another’s negligence, consult a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

In the state of California, the statute of limitations depends on varying factors. If an individual was injured in an accident, that person must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the accident. However, if someone dies as a result of a car accident and a wrongful death suit is brought, the time period begins from the date of death, not the date of the accident.

When to Contact a Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one were injured in a crash, the experienced attorneys at Hodes, Milman & Liebeck are here for you.

We have a strong track record of successfully fighting for our clients’ rights. Contact us today by calling 949-640-8222  for a free case evaluation. We can guide you towards getting your life back on track.


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When you work with us, you’ll see the difference. A lot of firms are quick to show you numbers, and it is absolutely true that your lawyer should have experience and a strong track record in the area that you require. However, we’ll take it one step further. We also believe that your attorney should put your needs, cares and desires first. Because you deserve more than just compensation for your losses - you deserve a true advocate.

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