Find Your State’s Deadline to File Your Car Wreck Claim

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Hurt in a car wreck as a result of someone else’s negligence? Then, the at-fault driver owes you money! Car insurance typically covers a little more than half your injury and property damage costs. (According to National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration data, car insurance covers about 52% of injury accident costs, on average). Unfortunately, many people choose that option because they believe it’s easier and faster than going through a lawyer. Some people mistakenly believe insurance companies will pay as much as personal injury claims (after legal fees). In fact, you can get up to 3.5x more money going through a personal injury lawyer.

Insurance companies tend to lowball offers on bodily injury claims in order to protect their bottom lines. Once that happens, many people do reach out to lawyers, hoping to negotiate a better settlement. But in some states, waiting that long makes you miss the deadline to have a lawyer negotiate on your behalf. This claim-filing deadline is also known as the “statute of limitations.” And this filing deadline can be as little as one year from your accident date. Find your state below to learn when your deadline falls to file your car wreck injury claim.  

States That Have Different Deadlines for Property Damage vs. Bodily Injury Car Wreck Claims

Having a personal injury lawyer handle your car wreck claim is, in fact, the only way to recover 100% of your accident costs. Damages typically include estimated pay amounts for both current and future expenses, such as:

  • Car repair costs
  • Medical expenses (includes bills not usually covered under health insurance plans, such as physical therapy or chiropractor adjustments)
  • Lost wages from taking either paid or unpaid time off work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost quality of life
  • Other car wreck-related lost or damaged property (i.e., broken eyeglasses, smartphones, clothing/jewelry, etc.)

These states have a different deadline for personal injury as well as property damage claims:

State Property Damage
Claim Deadline
Bodily Injury
Claim Deadline
California 3 years 2 years
Georgia 4 years 2 years
Idaho 3 years 2 years
Illinois 5 years 2 years
Iowa 5 years 2 years
Kentucky 2 years 1 year
Minnesota 6 years 2 years
Montana 2 years 3 years
Nevada 3 years 2 years
New Mexico 4 years 3 years
Oregon 6 years 2 years
Rhode Island 10 years 2 years
South Dakota 6 years 3 years
Tennessee 3 years 1 year
Utah 3 years 4 years
Virginia 5 years 2 years
Wisconsin 6 years 3 years

States With Matching Deadlines For Bodily Injury As Well As Property Damage Claims

Here are the remaining states as well as their deadlines for car wreck claims, listed in alphabetical order:

  • Alabama – 2 years
  • Alaska – 2 years
  • Arizona – 2 years
  • Arkansas – 3 years
  • Colorado – 3 years
  • Connecticut – 2 years
  • Delaware – 2 years
  • District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) – 3 years
  • Florida – 4 years
  • Hawaii – 2 years
  • Indiana – 2 years
  • Kansas – 2 years
  • Louisiana – 1year
  • Maine – 6 years
  • Maryland – 3 years
  • Massachusetts – 3 years
  • Michigan – 3 years
  • Mississippi – 3 years
  • Missouri – 5 years
  • Nebraska – 4 years
  • New Hampshire – 3 years
  • New Jersey – 6 years
  • New York – 3 years
  • North Carolina – 3 years
  • North Dakota – 6 years
  • Ohio – 4 years
  • Oklahoma – 2 years
  • Pennsylvania – 2 years
  • South Carolina – 3 years
  • Texas – 2 years
  • Vermont – 3 years
  • Washington – 3 years
  • West Virginia – 2 years
  • Wyoming – 4 years

Are There Any Exceptions to State-Based Statute of Limitation Laws?

Unfortunately, yes, since federal law may force you to meet a different claim-filing deadline. In some states, you have no more than 180 days to file claims for accidents caused by government employees. You have two years from your car wreck date to file claims involving federal government-owned vehicles (i.e., USPS delivery trucks). This is because claims against at-fault federal GOV drivers fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

For example: Let’s say you live in Wyoming. Wyoming’s statute of limitations for car wreck injury claims is four years since your accident date occurred. But if a USPS delivery truck rear-ends you and causes whiplash, you have just two years to file your claim. That’s because the FTCA is federal law, which always beats any state-based laws that govern injury claims.

So, what happens if a police officer on a high-speed chase clips your truck and injures you in the process? In some places, you have no more than 180 days to file a car wreck injury claim. Other states grant their own employees (i.e., state troopers, firemen) immunity from auto accident-related personal injury claims. When your car wreck involves a local, state or federal government employee driving on official business, contact a lawyer immediately. You may have less time than you think to negotiate a fair cash settlement for your injury!

Related: 5 Things an Auto Accident Lawyer Will Do For You

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