When is it Too Late to Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident? and What Can I Do Now?
Many car accident victims believe that if they do not hire a lawyer right away, then they have to go through the claims process alone. Even if you have been through months of failed insurance negotiations, an attorney will most likely be able to assist you.
If you have been in a car accident, it is imperative to speak with an attorney right away. TK Injury Lawyers would like to provide an overview of the claims process and situations in which it may be challenging to file a claim.
Barriers to Filing a Claim
There are situations that may prevent you from filing a claim, such as:
The statute of limitations has passed
In every lawsuit, there is a certain amount of time in which a claim must be filed, known as a statute of limitations.
For car accident lawsuits, the statute of limitations is two years. Legislation passed this law in order to ensure that key evidence would be preserved. After a certain amount of time, witnesses will not remember events as clearly, and DNA evidence will fade.
You accepted a settlement offer and signed a waiver liability release
Your claim is considered fully resolved once you accept a settlement offer with the insurance company. You will then sign a waiver releasing the other party from liability.
If you accept a settlement offer, then you forgo your rights to take your case to court.
Even if these two situations apply to you, you may still have legal options. It is always best to consult a car accident lawyer to find out if any legal remedies are available.
Signs To Consider Taking Your Case to Court
It may be time to take your case to court if you have been experiencing the following:
- The insurance company has denied your claim
- The insurance company is offering an unfair settlement amount
- Your medical expenses and vehicle damage exceed the other driver’s policy limits
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
A car accident lawyer knows what evidence is relevant in building your case. A lawyer will gather witness testimony, photographs, and video surveillance to show the other driver’s liability.
Save all your medical records and documentation of missed time from work. This will be important evidence to help you in collecting damages.
Along with preparing supporting documentation for the at-fault driver’s insurance company, a lawyer will help you draft a demand letter.
A demand letter should contain the following components:
- Establish facts: a demand letter should include all pertinent (relevant) facts about the car accident. This will include injuries and medical treatment.
- Detail injuries and medical treatment
- Describe the insured’s negligence: explain how the other driver was negligent, causing the accident.
- Categorize damages: in a car accident or any type of personal injury case, the demand letter should include economic damages (medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitative equipment) and other non-economic costs (pain and suffering, loss of society and companionship, and emotional distress).
- Make a demand: In a car accident case, how much do you want the insurance company to pay you?
- Set a deadline: give the insurance company a reasonable and specific date to respond by.
- Offer a consequence: a quality demand letter should offer a consequence if they do not comply. For instance, stating that if the insurer fails to accept your settlement offer, then you will be forced to take your case to court, in which you will demand a higher settlement.
In Texas, an insurance carrier has 15 calendar days to acknowledge receipt of your claim. Within 15 days of receiving all requested information, the insurer must approve or deny your claim.
Texas law allows an insurer to extend the period to up to 45 days if they need additional information. If your claim is approved, the insurance company must pay you within five business days.
You are entitled to collect 18% annual interest and attorneys’ fees in addition to the original claim amount if an insurer does not comply.
What Can I Do if It’s Too Late to File a Car Accident Claim?
If you believe it is too late to file a car accident claim, there are still a few steps you can take depending on your specific situation. Here are some suggestions:
- Review the statute of limitations: The statute of limitations sets a time limit within which a legal action must be initiated. The time limit for filing a car accident claim varies by jurisdiction. Research the laws in your area to determine if the deadline has passed. If it hasn’t, you may still have time to file a claim.
- Consult an attorney: Contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in car accidents. Even if you think it may be too late, an attorney can provide accurate legal advice based on your specific circumstances. They can review the details of your case, assess the statute of limitations, and guide you on the best course of action.
- Explore extenuating circumstances: In some situations, there may be exceptions to the statute of limitations. Certain factors like the delayed discovery of injuries, mental incapacity, or fraud by the other party involved in the accident could potentially extend the filing period. Discuss these possibilities with your attorney.
- Notify your insurance company: Regardless of the statute of limitations, it’s essential to inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. They may have their own time limits for reporting claims, and failure to notify them promptly could result in a denial of coverage.
- Consider alternative resolutions: If it truly is too late to file a formal claim, you can explore alternative methods of resolution. For example, you could try negotiating a settlement with the other party involved, if they are willing. Keep in mind that without the formal legal process, your options may be limited.
Remember, these suggestions are general in nature, and the specific steps you should take depend on the laws in your jurisdiction and the circumstances of your case. Consulting with a qualified car accident lawyer is crucial to understanding your rights and options in such situations.
A Car Accident Lawyer is Here for You
A car accident claim is a daunting process, and many car accident victims avoid contacting an attorney for fear of spending more on legal fees. In the long run, contacting an attorney during the process will save you money and headaches.
Learn why we are a trusted firm in Austin, Texas. Contact an Austin car accident lawyer at TK Injury Lawyers today to schedule your free consultation.
Trent Kelly obtained his law degree from the University of Arkansas in 2007. He is licensed to practice law in Texas and regularly assists clients with their legal matters. Trent’s practice is primarily focused on personal injury matters – particularly those involving motor vehicles (such as cars, commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, and motorcycles) and wrongful death – but he also handles various business litigation matters as well. Click here to take a look at the complex cases Trent has resolved.
Years of experience: 15 years
Bar number: 24072179
Location: Austin, TX