5 Important Legal Deadlines to Remember after a Car Accident

  • By:David Bate

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, approximately 2.3 million people were injured in 2014 during what was likely one of the most frightening events of their lives: a car accident. Enduring severe or minor injuries may disrupt a person’s life. If you are among those statistics, you want to recover as soon as you can.Dealing with a damaged car or shuffling back and forth to the doctor will likely require much of your time and attention. However, it should not completely distract you from seeking compensation for your injuries. Equally important to your physical recovery is protecting your rights to recover financially.The accident might have left you with:

  • Medical expenses
  • Damaged or destroyed property
  • Lost wages

Time is of the essence for personal injury cases, so taking appropriate steps towards full recovery requires some action on your part. Here are five important legal deadlines that might influence the validity of your car accident claim.

1. See your doctor for visible and invisible injuries. Whether you were in a minor fender-bender or a catastrophic collision, the resulting damage may be extensive. Sometimes, when someone is in a seemingly minor accident, symptoms related to an injury are not immediately noticeable. This may cause the victim to think a consultation with a doctor is unnecessary. However, you should see a doctor if you feel any level of discomfort or pain – or not. Your doctor can help determine whether you’ve sustained serious injuries and give you advice on how to notice symptoms of potential injuries. This step may be crucial if you plan to file any type of injury claim. Insurance adjusters will likely argue that your injuries could not have been too serious if you waited too long or didn’t consult a doctor.

2. Report the accident to law enforcement. Usually, accident victims call the police after a car crash. This is especially true if there is significant property damage, physical injuries or death. Even with minor accidents, the police should file an accident report after arriving on the scene. However, if the police did not investigate the accident, you should file an accident report with the state department of transportation. You may want to do this as soon as possible after the collision.

3. Follow and document physical therapy treatment. Before any physical therapy treatment you receive after the accident becomes a compensable part of your injury claim, it is likely necessary to document all aspects of the treatment. Details should tie back to the car accident and include bills for ongoing sessions. This may include physical therapy plans for soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains. These injuries may not show up on an MRI or X-ray, so it is very important to document the need for physical therapy in treating these injuries.

4. Speak with a car accident lawyer. Being involved in a car accident may require legal help. It is important to connect with an experienced accident lawyer who can help you recover from the accident. Hiring a lawyer shortly after the accident might help you avoid costly mistakes. Waiting longer than a week or two after the accident is the average to hire a lawyer, especially when recovering from injuries. It is likely in your best interest to contact a lawyer quickly because medical bills may pile up while your wages are decreasing. It may be wise to speak with a car accident lawyer before settling with the insurance company.5. File your personal injury lawsuit before the statute of limitations expire.Any personal injury lawsuit must be filed before a specific time limit after the car accident. Otherwise, any legal claims you might have had can be barred. Contacting a qualified DC car accident lawyer immediately can be extremely important to help learn about your legal rights and statutes that apply in your state.


Thanks to our friends and co-contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into important legal deadlines after an auto accident.

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