How long after a car accident can you claim? | Finder (2023)

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

Most insurers don't have a claims deadline because car insurance claims can sometimes take years to settle. The major exception is personal injury claims, which are handled through your state's compulsory third party (CTP) scheme. In order to be eligible for weekly benefits, you usually need to get your claim in within 28 days.

How soon after an accident should I file a claim?

Generally speaking, filing a claim as soon as possible after an accident helps your insurer pay all the bills and accident expenses more quickly. Claims take time to process, so the sooner you file, the sooner you're likely to see a reimbursement or payment from your provider.

(Video) How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Claim?

How long after a car accident can you claim? | Finder (1)

Time limits for different types of claims

When you make an insurance claim related to a car accident, you'll be making a claim for injuries, property damage or both. The time limits for making these claims differ from state to state and are based on the type of claim.

Injury claims

Injury claims are handled by CTP insurers and the time limits are set according to your state's CTP scheme. They can run anywhere from 1 month after consulting a lawyer to 1 year after the accident – and even longer in the case of children.

The benefits you can get from CTP are generally broken down into 2 categories, though it can differ slightly between states.

  • Statutory benefits. These are basic benefits that cover injuries and loss of earnings for a set amount of time after the accident. This is mainly for the driver who wasn't at fault, although more and more states are allowing the at-fault driver to access some of these benefits as well.
  • Personal damages. The not-at-fault driver can go after the at-fault driver's CTP insurance company for more compensation if their injuries are bad enough that they experience ongoing economic damage (and sometimes even non-economic damage like pain and suffering) that outlasts their statutory damages.

Property claims

Property claims are a little different. Insurers don't typically have a hard deadline for filing a claim, but they will request that you tell them about any potential claim as soon as possible after an accident so that they'll have time to investigate.

(Video) How Long Does it Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim

If you cause damage to someone else's property, they often have years before they're no longer able to go after you in court. That makes it even more important for you to report accidents early, so that your insurer can start to investigate right away on your behalf.

Keep in mind that each state and territory has limits on how long after an accident you can claim (see table below).

Injury and property damage by state

Here are the maximum time limits to make the various types of claims for each state. Most states will extend some of these time limits if you can show you had a good reason for the delay. Some states have slightly different time limits if the injured person is a child.

A note about these limits

We've designed the chart below to be as accurate and up to date as possible, but it's intended to be a rough guide. If you consult a lawyer for advice before filing a suit, this could save you trouble down the road; lawyers are experts on state laws and they should be able to guide you through the process.

Maximum length of time you can wait before you make a car insurance claim

StateStatutory benefits (injury or death) Personal damages (injury) Personal damages (property)
  • 3 months after the date of the accident
3 years after becoming aware of the injury or 12 years after the accident, whichever is earlier6 years after the accident
  • Under 18: By age of 21
  • Everyone else: 1 year after you first notice the injury
6 years after the accident6 years after the accident
  • Vehicle cannot be identified: 3 months
  • You have a lawyer handling the claim: 1 month after consulting a lawyer
  • Everyone else: 9 months after you notice the injury
3 years after the accident6 years after the accident
  • Vehicle cannot be identified or is uninsured: As soon as is reasonable
  • Everybody else: 6 months after the accident
3 years after the accident6 years after the accident
  • 6 months after the accident
3 years after the accident6 years after the accident
  • 12 months after the accident
3 years after becoming aware of the injury6 years after the accident
  • To receive early benefits: 30 days after the accident
  • To receive additional benefits: Claiming through a CTP insurer: 9 months
  • Claiming through the nominal defendant: 3 months
  • You have a lawyer handling the claim: 1 month
3 years after becoming aware of the injury6 years after the accident
  • 6 months after the accident
3 years after the accident

Is it ever worth waiting before filing?

As long as you notify your insurer in a timely fashion and don't blow past your CTP claims deadlines, there are some cases where it may be worth waiting a while before submitting your claim. Here are some pros and cons of doing so:

(Video) 3 Ways to MAXIMIZE your Auto Accident Insurance Claim


  • Get a more comprehensive claim. Most providers won't allow you to file more than one claim for one accident, and if they do, the process can be much more complex.
  • Get a second opinion from doctors. Waiting to file can buy you time to consult with more than one doctor to better assess your medical situation. This can save you trouble in the long run, both in terms of your health and how much your medical care costs you.
  • Make the most of your available cover. It's possible that if you rush to file your claim, you'll forget or miss an item that insurance would have covered if you had the chance to look through your claim again.


  • Longer wait before reimbursement or payment. Depending on your circumstances, you might need your claim paid out sooner rather than later. When you wait to file, that just delays the claims process.
  • Possible late bill payments. If you wait too long to file and it delays the payment of important charges or bills, you might get reported for a past-due payment to a credit reporting agency. If this happens, it could have a negative impact on your credit score.

How long will it take to have my claim processed?

According to the General Insurance Code of Practice, your insurer has 10 business days from the day it receives your claim to respond with the outcome or to let you know if it needs more time to collect information or conduct further investigation.

If your insurer does need more time, it must tell you what else it needs from you, give you an estimated time frame for completion and inform you of its progress at least every 20 business days.

(Video) Does An MRI Increase A Personal Injury Or Car Accident Settlement?

Bottom line

If you're injured or your property is damaged in a car accident, it can take weeks or even months to assess the true cost of fixing what's wrong.

Waiting before filing your claim or lawsuit with your insurer might help you get the cover you'll ultimately need. But if you exceed your state's statute of limitations, you could completely miss out on filing your claim or settlement, leaving you with a financial burden.

To find out how property insurance law can affect your car insurance claim, it can help to speak to your insurance agent or an insurance professional. For more information on everything to do with auto coverage, you can read our comprehensive guide to car insurance and our insurance guides for each state.

Frequently asked questions

  • This depends on your circumstances. Usually, it's only best if you and your doctor are both certain that all injuries and issues are accounted for. But even then, complications can arise from a healing wound or setting a broken bone, requiring further hospitalisation or even surgery. You can't wait forever to file your claim – in fact, the limit could be as short as a year after the accident – but it might be wise to wait until your health is truly back to 100% before you consider the medical portion of your claim ready to file.

    (Video) What Lawyers WON’T tell you about Car Accident Claims (but I will…)

  • Typically your insurance premiums will increase after making a claim on your insurance. You might also lose any no-claim or claim-free discount for maintaining your policy with no accidents or claims for a certain period. It may help to talk to your provider, so you can find out how much your rate will increase, and whether it's worth it to make your claim or whether you should just pay out of pocket for the damages.

Picture: Unsplash


1. 6 Tips For Settling Your Property Damage Claim After a Car Accident (2022)
(Legal Pad Law)
2. Steps to Take if You've Been in a Minor Car Accident | Preszler Law
(Preszler Law)
3. How Long Does It Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?
(Bachus & Schanker - Denver's Best Injury Lawyers)
4. How Long Do Personal Injury Claims Take to Settle?
(JZ helps (a Florida injury law firm))
5. How Car Accident Settlements Work
(Frekhtman & Associates)
6. The biggest mistakes people make after a car accident
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Domingo Moore

Last Updated: 12/10/2022

Views: 6312

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Domingo Moore

Birthday: 1997-05-20

Address: 6485 Kohler Route, Antonioton, VT 77375-0299

Phone: +3213869077934

Job: Sales Analyst

Hobby: Kayaking, Roller skating, Cabaret, Rugby, Homebrewing, Creative writing, amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Domingo Moore, I am a attractive, gorgeous, funny, jolly, spotless, nice, fantastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.