If you have been injured in a car accident in Ohio, you may be wondering how long you have to file a claim for compensation. The statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing a personal injury claim after a car accident.
Understanding this deadline is crucial, as failing to file your claim within the allotted timeframe could result in you losing your right to recover compensation.
In this article, we’ll explain Ohio’s statute of limitations for car accident claims, when the timeline begins, and steps to take to protect your right to damages after an auto accident. Read on for a detailed look at filing deadlines and claim procedures in Ohio.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in Ohio?
The statute of limitations pertains to the duration within which accident victims must initiate a claim following a collision. In Ohio, you generally have a two-year window from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim pertaining to a car crash.
This two-year deadline is applicable whether you intend to file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver or initiate a personal injury lawsuit. Failure to take action within two years can result in your claim being barred.
Some exceptions may apply that could pause or extend this two-year timeframe, which we’ll discuss later. But generally, you have a maximum of two years from the accident date to file your car accident claim in Ohio.
When Does the Two-Year Timeline Begin?
It’s important to understand exactly when the two-year countdown starts following a car accident. In Ohio, the statute of limitations clock begins ticking on the date the crash occurred.
For instance, if you were injured in an auto accident on March 1, 2020, you would need to file your personal injury claim by March 1, 2022. The day of the accident counts as day one.
The type of damage does not affect when the timeline starts. Even if you only discover injuries weeks later, the countdown still starts on the crash date. The clock runs continuously unless an exception applies.
Why You Should File Your Claim As Soon As Possible
While you technically have up to two years to file your car accident claim, it’s wise not to wait. The sooner you take action after an accident, the better for several reasons:
- Evidence fades over time – Witness memories fade, accident scenes change and valuable evidence can disappear. The longer you wait to file a claim, the harder it can be to prove liability.
- Insurance claims have deadlines – Most insurance policies require prompt claim filing. Wait too long, and the insurer could deny your claim.
- Your injuries may worsen – Some accident injuries, like soft tissue damage, can take time to fully surface. Quick action helps account for any latent injuries.
- You need funds to recover – Expenses for car repairs, medical bills, and lost income accumulate rapidly following a collision. Fast filing helps you access compensation sooner.
By filing your injury claim immediately, you can maximize compensation and avoid missing deadlines with insurance companies. Consult a car accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash for help gathering evidence and filing your claim.
Steps to Take Instantly After an Auto Accident
To protect your right to damages, be sure to take the following steps as soon as possible after a car accident:
- Get medical care – Seek emergency treatment even if you don’t feel seriously injured. Have all your injuries documented.
- Report the accident – Alert the police and file an official report. Get a copy of the report for your records.
- Document the scene – Take photos of property damage, skid marks, debris, road conditions, and any other evidence.
- Exchange information – Get the other driver’s name, insurance details, license plate, and contact info. Share your details with them as well.
- Contact insurers – Notify your insurance company and the other motorist’s insurer promptly about the accident.
- Consult an attorney – Discuss your case with a qualified car accident lawyer as soon as you can after the crash. They can help you take the proper legal steps to recover damages.
Can I Still File a Claim After the Two-Year Deadline?
Generally, no. After two years, your opportunity to file a claim will close unless an exception applies. Some potential exceptions include:
- Minors – For injured minors, the two-year deadline does not begin until they turn 18 years old.
- Wrongful death – Survivors typically have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death suit.
- Discovery rule – The timeline may be extended if injuries are not immediately detectable.
- Defendant’s absence – If the defendant leaves the state, the timeline could pause until they return.
An experienced personal injury attorney can advise whether any exceptions may apply in your case to extend the filing deadline. But otherwise, failing to file within two years will likely destroy your claim.
Should I File a Claim with the Insurance Company or File a Lawsuit?
You have a couple options for seeking damages after a car accident. The choice depends on several factors:
- Settlement negotiations – Discuss a potential settlement with the insurer. If they offer a satisfactory amount, settling may be best.
- Value of your claim – For major injuries with extensive losses, a lawsuit may be needed to recover full compensation.
- Shared fault – With shared liability, suing may be better to reduce your portion of fault.
- Uncooperative insurer – If the insurer denies liability or delays negotiations, legal action may be necessary.
Your attorney can request a settlement from the insurer first. If negotiations prove unsuccessful, it is crucial to promptly file a personal injury lawsuit within the statute of limitations.
What Damages Can I Claim After an Ohio Car Accident?
If you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit after a car accident in Ohio, some common damages you may recover include:
- Medical expenses – Bills for hospital treatment, ambulance fees, physical therapy, rehabilitation, prescriptions, and other accident-related care.
- Lost income – Wages lost due to missing work for treatment or recovery.
- Loss of future earning capacity – If injuries will permanently limit your earnings.
- Property damage – Repairs or replacement cost for damage to your vehicle or other property.
- Pain and suffering – Compensation for both physical and emotional distress resulting from the accident.
- Disfigurement – Compensation if injuries leave permanent scars or disfigurement.
- Wrongful death damages – If a fatality occurred, the decedent’s survivors may claim funeral costs, loss of companionship, and other damages.
A Knowledgeable car accident lawyer can evaluate your specific losses and seek full compensation through a claim or lawsuit. It’s critical to have an attorney assess your potential damages before agreeing to any settlement with an insurer.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
A personal injury attorney can offer invaluable assistance throughout the claims process. They can help you comprehend the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in your state and ensure you file your claim within the stipulated timeframe.
Don’t leave your right to compensation at risk. Contact The Jones Firm in Ohio. We can help you take swift legal action to recover damages after an auto accident.