People often ask me how long they have to bring an car accident claim. It is important for clients to understand that bringing an car accident claim is no more than notifying your insurance company or some other driver’s insurance company that you were involved in an accident, suffered some kind of loss, and want to be paid for your loss. It could be for damage to your vehicle, severe injuries, or payment of medical bills. Once you have notified the insurance company, they will assign a claims adjuster, give you a claim number, and start processing the case. If you’re simply making a claim for damage to your car, the odds are you can resolve the claim directly with the insurance company.
Difference Between a Car accident Claim and Formal Lawsuit
As I said, there’s a difference between bringing an car accident claim and filing a formal lawsuit. This involves what is known as the STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS. This is the last date in which you are allowed to file a formal lawsuit. In Pennsylvania, the state of limitations for damages to your car and injuries is two years. If your claim has not been settled, and you haven’t filed a formal lawsuit in two years, you have violated the statute of limitations, and you will lose your case.
Filing a formal lawsuit requires you to spend some time and money and must follow the rules of your local courts. If you don’t do this the right way, then you might as well not have even done it at all. For small claims, there are courts in Philadelphia and in the suburbs that can show you how to do it yourself. It does require a trip to the courthouse to get the papers filed. I find that these courts are very helpful for these claims. However, anything more than a small claim, I would not recommend you try to handle a car accident yourself. There are too many issues that can go wrong.
Rules that Apply
For instance, if you are injured in an motor vehicle collision or your car gets damaged by some type of government agency, there are special rules that apply. There are time limits on how long you have to make a claim. There are rules which requires that you make the claim in writing and rules on what information you have to give them. If you have to file a formal lawsuit, there are rules on what you must put in your complaint and who or what you have to name in the compliant. In these types of cases, you need a car accident lawyer familiar with these special rules.
Get the right attorney for the case
Here’s a tragic example of of an inexperienced attorney doing the wrong thing:
His client was seriously injured as the result of negligence of a Pennsylvania state agency known as the department of Transportation. Just before the two year statute of limitations, the attorney filed a formal lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania. The case was eventually dismissed because naming the state of Pennsylvania in the formal lawsuit was not good enough. The attorney should have specifically named the Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation. By the time the lawyer found out his mistake, the two year statute of limitations had passed, and the case was thrown out.
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