When to Claim an Injury After an Auto Accident
It’s important to ensure you claim an injury or file a personal injury lawsuit in time. However, it’s just as important that you never settle before you receive enough medical attention to understand the extent of your injuries. Schedule a free case evaluation with our Houston auto accident attorneys to learn more.
When to File a Personal Injury Claim
When you sustain an injury in any type of accident, it takes time to understand the extent and severity of your injuries. Even with minor injuries, the pain lingers for weeks or months in some cases. Without proper medical attention, it’s hard to predict the true impact an injury has on your life.
Moreover, severe injuries require extensive, potentially even ongoing, medical treatment. When you want to claim an injury with a car accident lawyer, how do you know how much compensation to request while you heal? When is the right time to prepare a lawsuit or insurance claim?
Additionally, it’s important to understand the difference between reporting an accident and filing an accident claim.
What to Do Before You File a Claim
There’s an important difference between reporting an accident and claiming an injury. Oftentimes, insurance companies require that you report an accident within 30 days. However, this does not mean you have to claim an injury in that period.
Additionally, some insurance companies require you to file a report with law enforcement within 24 hours of the accident. Typically, when an officer arrives at the scene of the accident, they file this report.
Many people report accidents via 911, either one of the drivers or a witness. For injury claims, that means this requirement is easily met – especially when someone needs an ambulance. Still, the question remains.
How long do you have to claim an injury?
Unfortunately, this varies by the insurance company and by state. Still, there are some essential activities to cover immediately following an accident. For a detailed review, read our post What to Do After a Car Accident in Texas.
Review: What You Should Do After an Auto Accident
- When you have the capacity, call 911. Doing so ensures everyone who needs medical attention receives it as soon as possible. Moreover, police investigate the scene and file a report that the insurance company requires.
- Gather the documentation the insurance company needs. This includes names, contact information, and insurance information for those involved. When you cannot, police include this in their report.
- Call your insurance provider to report the accident. However, be careful with your words.
- Maintain documentation in a single place. From contact info to medical bills and pictures, ensure you have easy access to necessary files.
When you follow these steps, you lay a solid foundation for the time to claim an injury comes.
Claim an Injury or Wait a Bit?
In certain cases, there are legitimate reasons to wait to file an injury claim. When you claim an injury against your own insurance, there’s the potential to lose out on injuries you discover later. Generally speaking, insurance providers make it difficult for people to file additional claims for the same injuries.
When your claim is against the other driver’s insurance company, once you settle, you waive your right to renegotiate for later injuries. The same is true for a personal injury lawsuit.
With this in mind, there are some reasons to wait before you claim an injury. For example, many injuries don’t show symptoms for days, weeks, or even months.
Oftentimes, head injuries and brain injuries take time to show symptoms, including traumatic brain injuries. TBIs range in severity from mild to severe. However, even mild conditions – for instance, a concussion – have a long-term impact.
Typically, a mild TBI results from a blow to the head that causes you to lose consciousness for less than 30 minutes, if at all. These injuries don’t necessarily show on a brain scan. As such, they might result in lasting problems.
- Memory loss
- Difficulty paying attention
- Mood swings
- Loss of focus
In mild cases, the symptoms tend to fade quickly. However, as many as 15% result in lasting symptoms.
Soft Tissue Injuries
When you want to claim an injury, you probably think about whiplash and that old cliche of people faking injuries. Whiplash is a common example of a soft tissue injury. Similar to a mild TBI, symptoms don’t always show up right away.
In some cases, fractures aren’t apparent. Additionally, they don’t always cause pain right away. For some people, the pain builds over time.
From bruises to ruptures, internal injuries are a broad spectrum. Depending on the severity of your injury, they might cause problems without any immediate symptoms.
Filing an Insurance Claim
As you can see, there are advantages to filing an insurance claim later on. These are especially relevant when you need to claim an injury against your insurance. While you want to comply with the requirements of your policy, it’s important to understand the extent of your injuries.
Some people want to file a claim quickly in order to cover their medical bills. However, when you wait, it ensures your claim is all-inclusive.
Moreover, waiting allows you to obtain different medical opinions on your injuries. This includes a more thorough assessment than your initial treatment. When it turns out that an injury requires lifelong treatment, it’s good to know sooner rather than later. This is especially true when you want to claim an injury with an insurance provider.
Of course, there’s a financial burden to deal with as you wait. The bills and medical expenses don’t wait for your insurance payout after all. Additionally, when you are the at-fault driver, it potentially makes you liable for any passengers and other drivers injured in the collision.
When you wait to file a claim under these circumstances, it leaves you responsible for even more bills. It’s a difficult decision for many people. Whether you file a claim now or wait, it seems like a double-edged sword.
There’s a balance to it that requires certain knowledge and advice. Luckily, a car accident lawyer has the expertise to help guide you through these decisions. When you don’t know what to do, schedule a free consultation with the auto accident attorneys at AP Law Group.
When Should You Claim an Injury?
If you are in the middle of your medical treatment, you don’t need to wait to claim an injury. In some cases, it’s a good idea to start the process. This is true whether it’s an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
Eventually, you run into a filing deadline when you want to file a lawsuit. If you and your attorney plan to go to court, it’s essential to comply with the Texas statute of limitations on personal injury.
Starting your case is one thing. However, you don’t want to accept a settlement before you understand your damages. With a personal injury attorney, you have guidance to help you maximize your claim. When we calculate your settlement demands, we work to ensure it covers the costs and gives you a foundation for your future.
Read more about damages in our post, Compensatory Damages vs Punitive Damages.
Time Limits to File Lawsuits
When you want to claim an injury through a lawsuit, it’s important to understand the statute of limitations. For any kind of lawsuit, there are state laws that establish deadlines for filing a case and going to court.
In Texas, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. Even as you start to claim an injury, it’s important to keep this date in mind. While there are some conditions that extend this deadline, once it passes, you lose your opportunity to pursue compensation.
Read more about the statute of limitations in our post, How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim an Injury in Texas?
“Maximum Medical Improvement”
Before you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company, whether it’s your own or a negligent driver’s, understand the concept of “maximum medical improvement” or MMI. This means one of two things.
- You are as healthy as possible following your injuries.
- Your attorney understands enough to value your damages to include future expenses and the ongoing impact of your injuries.
While you don’t lose anything when you start the claims process before MMI, it’s essential that you understand past and future damages before you accept a settlement.
Claim an Injury with Our Auto Accident Attorneys
As long as we file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you have the option to pursue the compensation you deserve. Knowing when to claim an injury feels complicated. However, it doesn’t have to be.
The most effective way to file a claim is with the help of a personal injury lawyer. That’s why it is essential to consult an attorney as soon as possible following an accident. At AP Law Group, we are your advocates against the insurance companies.
When you work with our Houston car accident lawyers, we bear the burden of your case so that you have the time and energy to heal. As you focus on your recovery, we focus on recovering the funds you need to move on with your life.
To fight for your future, schedule a free case evaluation with the team at AP Law Group today.