How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?
Victims of car accidents, especially high-speed car accidents, can suffer serious injuries. The nature and extent of these injuries often depend upon how the accident occurs. For example, the injuries that an accident victim might suffer in a head-on collision are often more serious than those they might endure in a low-speed rear-end car accident that occurs at a traffic intersection.
Injuries that car accident victims suffer can require a significant amount of medical treatment, physical therapy, and medical procedures. Potential injuries that individuals suffer in car accidents can often include soft tissue injuries, traumatic head and brain injuries, bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, paralysis injuries, and death.
When an accident victim suffers one or more of these injuries in a serious car accident, they can incur medical bills for related hospital stays, medical treatment, physical or occupational therapy, and medical procedures (including the costs of surgeries and injections). Accident victims might also have to miss time away from their job to treat and recover from their injuries, and they might endure a significant amount of inconvenience, pain, and suffering due to their injuries.
In some instances, injuries after a car crash do not manifest right away. In fact, they may take several days or even weeks after the car accident to become apparent. Although there is no set time after a car accident that you can claim an injury, to recover monetary compensation and damages, you must demonstrate that the injury in question is causally related to your car accident.
Put another way, the accident must be a cause (though not necessarily the only cause) of your injury or injuries. Moreover, the longer you wait to receive medical treatment after a car accident, the harder it will be to causally connect your injury to the subject car accident.
For an accident victim to causally connect injuries to a car accident, a healthcare provider must be on board in the case. Moreover, the accident victim should seek continuous medical treatment to increase the chances of finding and verifying a causal connection. Finally, the accident victim should promptly file a claim or lawsuit in the case before the statute of limitations expires in the jurisdiction where the accident took place.
A knowledgeable car accident attorney in your area will do everything possible to help you maximize your chances of recovering monetary compensation in your case. Your lawyer can also ensure that a lawsuit is filed well within the applicable statutory deadline for your jurisdiction.
Seeking Immediate Medical Treatment After a Car Crash
When victims of car accidents do not seek immediate, same-day medical treatment after their accidents, insurance companies often become skeptical. Specifically, insurance company adjusters tend to think that when there is a delay in receiving medical treatment following a car crash, the accident victim must not have been injured all that seriously in their accident. Insurance company adjusters also tend to think that the accident victim is not making their medical treatment a priority.
As soon as possible after a car accident, the accident victim should seek follow-up medical care and treatment at a local hospital emergency room or urgent care center. A victim should seek treatment even if the accident victim is unsure whether they suffered an injury in the accident.
Car accident injuries are not always evident right away, and it is better to be safe than sorry. Moreover, seeking same-day medical treatment following a car accident increases the chances that an insurance company adjuster will causally connect the accident victim’s injuries to the accident, as opposed to arguing that they are pre-existing or unrelated.
In addition to seeking same-day medical treatment if possible, the accident victim should follow through with any recommendations that the emergency room or urgent care doctor makes regarding treatment, including following up with a primary care doctor or medical specialist, such as an orthopedist, soon.
Following a car accident, your top priority should be receiving the medical treatment that you need and recovering from your injuries. A knowledgeable car accident attorney near you can handle all of the legal aspects of your claim while you concentrate on treating your injuries and getting back to normal.
Causally Connecting Injuries After a Car Accident
One of the best ways to ensure that the at-fault driver’s insurance company (or a jury at trial) will causally connect your injury to the accident is to seek continuous medical treatment, starting on the date of your accident. The longer you move away from the date of your accident, the harder it will be to causally connect new injuries. After several months, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to connect new symptoms of injuries to the car accident in which you were involved.
Moreover, there should not be long gaps in your medical treatment, and you should not discharge yourself from a treatment facility. Instead, you should wait for the treatment facility to discharge you formally. When insurance company adjusters see large gaps in an accident victim’s medical treatment, they usually become skeptical and are less likely to causally connect your injury or symptoms to the subject accident.
Even if you seek medical treatment for a long time after your accident (such as for a permanent injury you sustained), the insurance company is more likely to find a causal connection if you treat continuously since the date of your accident.
Another way to ensure that treatment following a car accident is part of your claim is for a healthcare provider, such as a doctor, to reference the causal connection in writing. In other words, the healthcare provider must state, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that you suffered an injury and that the accident was a cause of your injury. A healthcare provider might also state that you suffered a permanent injury and that, consequently, continuous medical treatment was necessary.
In some instances, accident victims need medical treatment for a long time because the accident exacerbates a pre-existing injury. Depending upon the circumstances, a healthcare provider might state, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that a car crash exacerbated an injury from which the accident victim was already suffering at the time of their crash.
A knowledgeable car accident attorney in your jurisdiction can help you prove the legal elements of your claim, including medical causation, by retaining the necessary expert or experts to testify on your behalf if the case goes to trial.
Statutes of Limitation in Car Accident Cases
Victims of car accidents do not have an indefinite time to file a claim or lawsuit arising from their injuries. The deadlines for filing car accident claims are jurisdiction-specific and often vary from state to state. In most jurisdictions across the country, the deadline for filing a lawsuit in a car accident case for injuries sustained is two years or less. In other jurisdictions, the deadline could range from one year to as much as four or five years from the accident date.
The purpose of having a statute of limitations in place for car accident cases is threefold. First, it ensures that car accident cases do not drag on for an inordinate amount of time without any resolution. Second, a statute of limitations sets a time deadline for when an accident victim can claim that an injury or other item of damage is related to a car accident. Lastly, it serves to ensure that documentary evidence and witnesses remain available in the case.
You need to know the statute of limitations deadline for car accident cases in your jurisdiction. If you fail to file a lawsuit within the prescribed deadline, you can no longer pursue or recover monetary compensation for your injuries, absent exceptional circumstances.
Exceptions to the statute of limitations are extremely rare and typically only apply if the accident victim has a disability at the time of the accident. For example, at the time of the collision, the accident victim might have had a disability, in which case the statute of limitations might be tolled (or stopped) for a time. Just to be on the safe side, however, you should always assume that the established statute of limitations deadline for your jurisdiction will apply in your car accident case.
An experienced car accident attorney in your area can assist you with filing a lawsuit in your car accident case well within the statute of limitations. When your lawyer files the lawsuit, they can litigate the case in the court system and could also continue settlement negotiations in your car accident case. Importantly, many cases do settle while a lawsuit is pending, so the fact that a lawsuit is filed does not mean that you will necessarily end up in court.
Just because a lawsuit is filed in your car accident case to protect the statute of limitations, this does not necessarily mean that your case will be tried in a court of law. In fact, many car accident cases settle out of court long before they ever go to trial. Your lawyer will do everything possible to maximize your monetary recovery in your car accident claim.
Pursuing Monetary Compensation for the Injuries That You Suffered in Your Car Accident
Regardless of how long you received treatment for your car accident injuries, to be eligible to recover monetary compensation in the form of damages, you must prove all of the legal elements of your claim. Specifically, you must demonstrate that another driver was negligent by violating the rules of the road, engaging in distracted driving, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or in some other way.
In addition, you must demonstrate that the other driver’s negligence resulted in the accident and your injuries. Through medical testimony (the testimony of a healthcare provider), you must show that your injury or injuries were the results of the accident.
If you can satisfy all of the legal elements of your car accident claim, you might be eligible to recover damages. First, you could pursue economic recovery for all of your related medical treatment costs. These costs typically include the expenses associated with doctor visits, physical therapy appointments, medical procedures, mobility aids, rehabilitation, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Moreover, if you had to miss time from work because of injuries you suffered in your car accident, you could make a lost wage claim. For a successful lost wage claim, a healthcare provider must typically tell you to avoid work for a while. In the alternative, a healthcare provider might authorize you for light-duty work because of the injuries you suffered in your car accident.
In addition to these economic damages and other out-of-pocket costs, you might be eligible to recover non-economic damages as part of your car accident claim. Specifically, you could pursue compensation for all of the pain, suffering, and inconvenience that you experienced because of your car accident injuries. You could also seek monetary compensation for emotional anguish and mental distress related to your injuries.
If you suffered a permanent injury in your car accident that required a significant amount of medical treatment, and that injury prevents you from using a specific body part, you could bring a loss of use claim. Similarly, if your injuries have impacted your ability to enjoy life following your car accident, you could pursue a claim for loss of life enjoyment. Finally, if your car accident injuries prohibit you from being intimate with a spouse, you could present a loss of consortium claim.
A car accident attorney near you can calculate the approximate value of your car accident claim. Your lawyer could also assist you with pursuing these various types of damages and ensuring that you recover full and fair compensation for the injuries that you suffered in your accident.