When you’re dealing with injuries from a car accident, you want to focus on recovering and putting your life back together, and you probably don’t feel like dealing with legal questions or a lawsuit. So it’s natural to ask how long you can wait before you need to file a claim.
In a way, this is a trick question. That’s because in theory, you can wait until just before the statute of limitations expires before you file. However, if you want to win with your claim, you will need to build a solid case based on evidence, and that requires you to begin working on your claim as soon as possible after the accident.
Let’s take a look at the statute of limitations and how they affect a car accident case.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline on the amount of time you have to file a particular type of legal claim. Each state has a different statute of limitations for car accident cases.
After the time allowed in the statute of limitations passes, if you try to file a lawsuit, the court will dismiss it. That means you’ve lost the right to file a claim. You also cannot seek a settlement outside of court because the insurance company and responsible driver have no reason to pay your claim since you can’t enforce your rights in court. Allowing the statute of limitations to pass without taking steps to preserve your claim is a big mistake.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in the DMV
How much time do you have to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for a car accident in the DMV? Each state sets their own rules, so here are the statutes for DC, Maryland, and Virginia:
- D.C. Code §12.301 – Three years after the date of the accident
- Md. Code Courts & Judicial Proceedings §5-101 – Three years after the date of the accident
- Va. Code §8.01-243 – Two years after the date of the accident
However, it is important to note that if you are filing a wrongful death claim based on a car accident, the statute of limitations may be shorter. In D.C., for instance, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of death, which could be the accident date or could be later.
The Need to Prepare Before Filing
The filing deadline is important near the end of the process of filing a car accident claim. To succeed in recovering compensation, a car accident victim in the DMV needs to show that someone else’s negligence caused the accident and their injuries. They need evidence, and the best evidence is only available right after the accident.
That means you should start working with an accident lawyer as soon as possible to help collect and preserve the evidence you need to win your case. In addition, an attorney can handle questions from insurance companies to make your life easier and prevent potential mistakes that could jeopardize your claim.
Johnnie Bond Law Can Help
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, the dedicated team at Johnnie Bond Law can help find the right medical care and recover full compensation for your losses. Even if you feel like you’ve got plenty of time left to file a claim, you can give yourself the best chance of success if you seek legal advice as soon as possible. Contact for a free case evaluation today.