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Is There a Statute of Limitations for a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim?

October 25, 2019

In the state of Indiana, personal injury claims for motor vehicle accidents have a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident. 

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

In personal injury law, a statute of limitations is the time limit in which the plaintiff (the individual suing for damages) may file a claim for a personal injury lawsuit. Individuals suing the responsible party for damages must do so within the statute of limitations, or else they risk losing an opportunity to seek compensation.

Those injured in a car accident must seek medical assistance as soon as possible to determine the extent of the injuries. Waiting too long could result in Indiana courts dismissing the claim since it is more likely that any injuries were caused by events after the car accident.

What Are Some Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

There are some exceptions to the standard two-year statute of limitations. However, most exceptions actually shorten the time frame rather than extend it. Here are a few examples:

  • Individuals who seek to hold an Indiana government organization responsible for injuries and property damage are allowed a nine-month statute of limitations from the date of the car accident.
  • Individuals who seek to hold an Indiana city or county responsible for damages in a car accident case are allowed only a six-month statute of limitations.
  • Minors are not allowed to file a personal injury claim for themselves. Therefore, they are allowed a two-year statute of limitations from the date of their 18th birthday.

While there have been rare exceptions granted to plaintiffs seeking damages after the standard statute of limitations, most people who attempt to file a personal injury claim late often see their case dismissed by Indiana courts.

What Is Involved with Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

When filing a personal injury claim after a car accident, Indiana courts grant the defendant (the individual or organization you claim to be at fault for the accident) an opportunity to respond to the claim.

If the defendant does not admit guilt, then your attorney will begin building your case. Both sides proceed to gather evidence through the discovery phase before taking your personal injury case to court.

Most personal injury lawsuits take anywhere from six months to three years in the state of Indiana. Because of the length of time it may take to defend their case, as well as court costs, many defendants make a settlement offer to the plaintiff early on in the process. 

Is It a Good Idea to Accept a Settlement Offer?

Not all settlement offers are fair. That’s why you should allow a personal injury attorney to guide you through the process. They will be able to advise you whether it is in your best interest to take the settlement or to settle your case in the courtroom.

Your entire personal injury case doesn’t need to be resolved within the two-year statute of limitations. It is only required that you file your intent to sue (known as your complaint) within the statute of limitations.

For more information about how an Indiana car accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529, or visit our website.