Auto accidents can cause severe and life-threatening injuries to victims. A high number of people lose their lives each year due to road accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were approximately 6,756,000 police-reported vehicle crashes in the United States in 2019.
When an automobile accident is caused due to another person’s negligence, the victim can file a personal injury claim to recover compensation from the at-fault party. However, it is important to remember that, generally, a claim for an auto accident case can only be brought within two years from the date of the accident.
Indiana’s Statute of Limitations
The laws of each state set a time limit to start a lawsuit in the state’s civil court system. The statute of limitations in Indiana says that the victim can file an auto accident claim within two years from the day of the incident. If a claim is brought after the expiry of the statute of limitations, it will probably get dismissed.
However, there are some exceptions to this two-year rule. For instance, in case of minors, the statute of limitations will begin from the minor’s 18th birthday as minors cannot file a lawsuit themselves. There may be many other situations that affect the limitation period for an auto accident claim. It is advisable to consult an auto accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident to understand the issues related to the timeline of an auto accident case.
Why Do States Have Statutes of Limitations?
States impose a statute of limitations as a protective measure for defendants and to resolve auto accident claims within a reasonable period. Generally, it is believed that plaintiffs with a valid claim will pursue the matter within a reasonable time. The defendant may also lose important pieces of evidence if a case is brought after an unreasonably long period of time. Courts may assume that a plaintiff is filing a claim after staying inactive for a long period of time for ulterior motives rather than for seeking justice.
What Happens if a Condition Develops After the Accident?
Having a statute of limitations does not mean that the victim must file a claim immediately after the accident. In many cases, some conditions develop weeks or even months after the accident and the extent of the damage is not discovered immediately after the accident.
Some examples of such conditions are explained below:
- If a person suffers a fractured leg in an accident and the injury does not heal properly, he or she may require surgery and comprehensive post-surgery care. If a claim is filed right after the accident, it may limit the victim’s ability to claim compensation for long-term care requirements.
- Similarly, in case of a brain injury, it may take weeks to discover the true extent of the injury and to decide whether surgery is required. Filing a claim before a proper medical assessment is made can cause the victim to lose out on some additional damages.
It is important to get a proper medical assessment done after the accident even if there are no apparent injuries. Medical records including x-rays, scans, and medical certificates related to the victim’s injuries are necessary to evaluate the value of the auto accident claim and serve as an important piece of evidence.
Contact an Indiana Auto Accident Attorney
An auto accident attorney works closely with the victim and provides a competent evaluation of the real worth of the claim. In some rare cases, the attorney can also help with cases that have missed the two-year deadline.
If you were injured in an auto accident in Indiana, get in touch with our team of Indiana auto accident attorneys at Stewart & Stewart. Our experienced attorneys will advise you regarding all the issues related to the statute of limitations and the correct time to file the claim.