I was injured…in a car wreck, at the mall, by a medical error. How long do I have to make a claim?

Hoffspiegel Law Blog

There are different time limits provided by the law to make various types of claims. The time limit is usually two years, but there are exceptions. The time limit to make a defamation claim is 1 year. The time limit to notify a municipality is six months of an injury claim, though after that notice is sent the two-year rule applies. The notice for a claim against the state is one year, but you have the full two years to file suit assuming you sent timely notice. Property damage to a vehicle is four years. So, if you are in a collision, the time to make the bodily injury claim is two years, but you have four years to file suit on the damage to the vehicle. And a consortium claim, which derives from a spouse’s injury claim, can be filed within 4 years as well.

How do I protect myself?

If you notify an insurer that you were injured due to their insured’s negligence and your car was damaged or totaled, you are on your way. But you have not stopped the clock. You need to settle your injury claim within two years of the incident or file suit. Filing suit stops the clock from running out. There are a few exceptions where the time is extended. There was a statewide extension due to COVID. There are extensions for outstanding traffic charges against the at-fault party.

Remember, making a claim with an insurance company does not stop the time from running on you. Filing suit and obtaining proper service upon the at-fault party does. Note that there are different time limits for a workplace injury.

Now you know how to avoid losing your right to sue. However, in order to make an effective claim, be sure that you hire counsel who will do a proper investigation early on. That is before witnesses disappear and evidence gets lost. If you are injured, go to the doctor. Treat consistently. Large gaps in treatment created skepticism from both insurance adjusters and jurors. Follow his or her instructions and be sure to attend every single one of your physical therapy appointments if you are sent to physical therapy. And if you are making a claim against your own carrier, typically known as an uninsured motorist claim, you must give timely notice to your carrier of your intention. There are some time limits stated in insurance policies as short as 30 or 60 days. Your failure to let your own carrier know timely that not only were you injured, but that you may be pursuing a claim under your policy’s uninsured motorist coverage may result in the loss of your ability to proceed successfully.

So now you know some of the time limits. But just because you have all this time does not mean that the best practice is to use it. The most efficient way to pursue and injury claim is to do everything on a timely basis. That includes notification, medical treatment and follow-up as well as trying to resolve the matter long before the clock runs out.

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