When you’re hurt in a car accident, stressed and in pain, you probably aren’t thinking about any time limits running out. Instead, you’re thinking about your injuries, whether you’ll be able to recover enough to go back to work, and how much the entire ordeal will cost you.
But life runs on time limits and deadlines, and the legal process for getting compensation after an auto accident is no exception. After a crash, it’s important to keep these deadlines in mind, as being eligible for a settlement depends on you meeting them.
Reporting the Crash to Police: Immediately
The first deadline you’ll face after an auto accident goes into effect immediately after the collision and ends before you even leave the scene. That deadline involves reporting the crash to the police. Not only is reporting the crash to authorities the first step towards getting compensation, but it’s also legally required.
The only time you can legally leave an accident scene without reporting it is if there are no injuries or deaths, and the property damage is less than $300. Because even minor fender benders can result in several hundred, if not thousands of dollars in damage, you should call 911 and report any crash you’re involved in if there’s obvious damage to either vehicle.
And even if you think there are no injuries, not all injuries are immediately apparent, and they may only become known after you leave the scene. It is better to assume there are injuries if you aren’t sure.
Getting Medical Attention: As Soon as Possible
Although there’s no law or legal time limit for getting medical treatment after an accident, there is a time limit in the eyes of the insurance company—and that time limit is “right away.” The longer you wait to get treated for your injuries, the more suspicious the insurance company will be of your claim of how you got them, and the more likely it will be to deny it.
That’s because waiting several days, weeks, or even months to get treated increases the likelihood that your injuries happened through other circumstances or were aggravated by other circumstances. It also makes the insurance company think that your injuries couldn’t possibly be serious because you waited so long to get them treated, and therefore you deserve less money or none at all.
Reporting the Crash to Your Auto Insurance Provider: Within 24-48 Hours
Even if you weren’t at fault for the accident, you still need to report it to your insurance provider within a day or two of it happening. Some insurance companies allow longer timelines, but it’s better to cross this task off your list as quickly as possible. If you wait too long to report the crash, you may be ineligible for getting compensation from your Med Pay or underinsured/uninsured driver coverage, if needed.
You can report the crash to your insurer either over the phone or by using your insurer’s app. Smartphone apps often include features that allow you to take pictures of the damage and relevant documents which you can quickly submit to ensure your crash is on file.
Calling a Lawyer: As Soon as Possible
As with medical treatment, there’s no legal requirement for calling a lawyer. But it’s a good idea to get one on your side as soon as you can. That’s because evidence can quickly disappear as witnesses go on with their lives and streets are cleared to make way for traffic again.
Additionally, both your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company may start building their own claims against you immediately after a crash.
The sooner you get a lawyer on your side, the more evidence they’ll likely have at their disposal to build your claim. And the sooner your claim gets underway, the less time you’ll have to wait to get your settlement check—which you probably need right away!
Filing a Compensation Claim or Lawsuit: Within 2 Years of the Date of the Crash
Oklahoma law dictates that people injured because of other people’s or parties’ negligence have two years from the date their injuries occurred to seek compensation through a civil lawsuit. Although that may sound like plenty of time, it can pass quickly, especially if you think you can negotiate easily with the insurance company and you don’t have a lawyer working on your claim.
You may waste a lot of time trying to resolve things without resorting to a lawsuit. And when those two years pass, that’s it—there are no second chances, and your ability to get a settlement is forever lost.
Although injury claims can and are successfully filed and won many months after crashes occur, it’s always best to get the ball rolling on your claim within a matter of days—if not hours! When you and your lawyer can beat the insurance company when it comes to preparing your claim, you’ll only improve your chances of getting the money you need.
We’re Ready to Help on the Day You Contact Us
After you (or someone at the scene) has reported your crash to police and you’ve received medical attention, your next step should be contacting us. As Oklahoma auto accident lawyers, it’s our goal to take over the entire injury claim process for you.
From communicating with the insurance company to collecting evidence to determining exactly how much money you’re owed, you can count on us to have your best interests in mind. Focus on your recovery, while we focus on getting you paid. Contact Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.