It’s difficult to know what the next best steps are after you’ve been in a car accident.
If the accident is not your fault, you should file an insurance claim, but you may want to file a personal injury lawsuit as well. It’s important to be aware of the time limits: insurance claims and lawsuits may have different deadlines.
So how much time do you have? The short answer is 1 year for a personal injury suit. Insurance claim time limits vary, but many companies require you to initially report your accident within 24 hours.
There are many reasons why you might feel the need to delay your filing after an accident, ranging from injuries and assessing damages, to psychologically processing the incident.
However, by operating on the more cautious side and working with a personal injury attorney to file a claim as soon as reasonably possible after the accident, you’ll increase your chances of having a successful case.
Louisiana car accident attorney Davey Jones explains below.
How much time do you have to file a claim in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, you must file a lawsuit for a personal injury claim within 1 year of the date of the accident. The legal term we use is prescription. When prescription runs after one year, you are forever forbidden from filing suit.
Deadlines on filing claims internally with the insurance company vary. However, many insurance companies require you to initially report an accident within 24 hours. This is usually vague and poorly explained to customers.
To be safe, you should report your accident as soon as you can. The main reason you should speak with an insurance representative quickly is that there may be requirements you have to perform after an accident. One common requirement is to contact the police within a specific amount of time, typically within 24 hours after the accident.
After you report your accident, a claim is opened. There will be time thereafter to organize evidence and go through the process of making your claim.
You should always check your policy to determine the specific parameters for filing a claim after an accident. But regardless of your insurance company’s specific policy, you should file your claim as soon as possible.
How Do You File an Insurance Claim in Louisiana?
Here are some typical steps insurance companies often require in the claims process:
- Generate a police report
- Produce medical records evidencing your injury
- Have your vehicle inspected for repairs
- Coordinate with a claims adjuster and allow them to investigate
- Produce pictures and documents for everything
By calling the police, you have a record of your accident that is usually necessary when filing a claim. In addition, you should obtain all of the names, phone numbers, and insurance policies from others in the accident. Along with obtaining relevant information from others, you should also take photos of the accident.
After reporting your accident with all of the relevant information you need to begin the process of investigating the accident, including speaking with a claims adjuster to discuss repairs and medical care.
During this entire process, you should keep copies of every official document or relevant piece of information, and work with your attorney to keep this evidence organized. Here are some examples of relevant documents and information:
- Car repair costs
- Rental car or transportation costs
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
Late Filing of a Claim or Lawsuit
If you fail to file a claim or report an accident promptly, it is still possible to file a late claim. A later filing will be inspected closely by the claims adjuster to determine the validity of your potential injuries. Your insurance company may reject your claim for being late, but that will have no effect on your ability to file a lawsuit.
If you miss the deadline for filing a lawsuit, however, you’re typically out of luck. There are a few exceptions to the deadline, but these exceptions are rare and not worth testing. Do not let prescription run on your case.
The most important step you can take to ensure a successful insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit is to hire an experienced car accident attorney.
Get Attorney Davey Jones on your side
Attorney Davey Jones has years of experience helping clients with personal injury and auto accident cases.
If you need help filing your claim or know what to do next, contact the Jones Law Firm for your consultation today.