Getting into a vehicle accident can be a confusing experience for those involved. This is particularly true when it comes to determining how long you have to file a vehicle accident claim in an effort to recover compensation for your losses. The reality is that there are various timeframes that car accident victims in Pennsylvania need to be aware of. Some of these time limits are set forth under Commonwealth law, while others are a bit harder to determine. Here, we want to discuss the time limits that car accident victims need to be aware of after an accident occurs in Pennsylvania.
Reporting the Crash Immediately
It is crucial for all vehicle accidents that happen in Pennsylvania to be reported as soon as possible. First, Pennsylvania law requires that all car accidents be reported to law enforcement if any of the following occur:
- Any injuries to those involved (even non-life-threatening injuries)
- The fatality of any party involved
- Any vehicle damage that prevents a vehicle from leaving the scene under its own power
Reporting a Crash to Insurance Carriers
Most people do not realize that insurance carriers have fairly strict reporting deadlines in these situations. Insurance carriers in Pennsylvania typically require that a collision be reported to them within a day or two after the incident occurs. If a vehicle accident victim fails to file an insurance claim within this short amount of time, the insurance carrier will likely put up some roadblocks when it comes to the settlement. They could delay the claim, or they could even deny it altogether.
Why would waiting to report an accident cause a problem?
Insurance carriers are notoriously difficult to deal with, and they are looking for reasons to avoid paying out settlements. In a way, failing to report an accident promptly is a way for the insurance carrier to justify denying the claim. They could say that a person delayed a claim because they were not actually injured or did not really sustain property damage. If there is a delay in reporting the crash, what is to keep an insurance carrier from saying that the injuries or property damage occurred sometime after the alleged incident?
When a vehicle accident victim reports a crash to the insurance carrier, they do not need to go into much detail. An initial report only needs to include the name and contact information of those involved and information about whether or not the person is seeking medical care. Under no circumstances should a person tell the insurance carrier that they have not sustained any injuries. The truth is that the signs and symptoms of many accident injuries do not develop until hours or days after a collision occurs.
Pennsylvania’s Car Accident Statute of Limitations
One of the most important things to keep in mind after a Pennsylvania vehicle accident is the statute of limitations. Car accident victims in the Commonwealth will have to abide by the Pennsylvania personal injury statute of limitations, which is two years from the date an injury occurs. Vehicle accident victims will have a two-year window with which to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent driver(s) in their case, or they will lose the ability to recover any compensation at all. Personal injury lawsuits are typically a last resort in these situations and are usually only filed if the insurance refuses to offer a fair settlement or denies the claim.