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How Long do you have to File an Insurance Claim after a Car Accident?

Insurance claim form

As is the case with most severe car accidents, most physical injuries will make themselves known very shortly after the car accident. The day after you wake up from being in a car accident you are likely to experience aches, pains, and, in some cases bruising. But –what happens when the injuries take their time to reveal themselves? Injuries which may seem non-threatening and mild can quickly become serious as we progress through our day to day lives.

While being in a car accident could result in anything from a brain injury to bruising which clears up in a few weeks, opening a personal injury claim should not be delayed if you are experiencing any symptoms as the result of and following a serious car accident.

Your insurance provider will generally outline in your policy how long you have to start an insurance claim with them following an accident. Generally, it is best not to delay starting any claim, as delaying claims could make it more difficult to be successful, however, most states have statutes of limitations for filing a personal injury claim with your insurance for personal injuries which may arise following your accident.

Statute of Limitations

A “statute of limitations” refers to a law or statute that outlines a time limit in which people can bring certain kinds of legal actions. More simply, it is the deadline in which you have to file a lawsuit. For example, if you or someone you know was injured in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft, you would have a specific, pre-described amount of time to open a legal claim in order to recompensate yourself for damages you may have sustained as a result of that accident.

Keep in mind that the statute of limitations for opening a personal injury claim with your insurance carrier is different than the amount of time which you have to report a car accident. In California, motorists are required to report car accidents where the accident resulted in personal injury or more than $2,000 worth of property damage within 10 days of the accident. In Nevada, motorists are required to report the same types of accidents immediately.

While the statute of limitations varies from state to state, they can last anywhere from 1 to 10 years. In California, if you would like to file a personal injury claim as the result of being in an auto accident, the statute of limitations is 2 years. This means that with few exceptions, most people who are attempting to start a personal injury claim after 2 years will not be able to do so.

In contrast, the statute of limitations is even shorter in Nevada, with plaintiffs who would like to open a personal injury claim after being in a car accident only having 1 year to do so. Keep in mind that the longer that claimants wait to file an insurance claim, the harder it will be to recover the maximum compensation amount which they are entitled to. In addition, claims like this are complicated and designed to deter applicants from filing, but, with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney in California or Nevada, you may be able to file your claim and be successful even after the statute of limitations has expired.

When does the “clock” start for the Statute of Limitations?

While you know that you have 2 years to file a personal injury claim if you’ve been injured in California and 1 year to file a personal injury claim with your insurance if you’ve been injured in Nevada, the general time in which the “clock” starts to calculate your Statute of Limitations is from the date of the accident.


While it is important to file a claim for personal injury with your insurance company as soon as you experience injury from a car accident, there are some cases in which you may need to wait in order to file a personal injury claim.

In California, there are three major types of exceptions in which a court would be able to allow you to still file a claim with your insurance provider for personal injury sustained from a car accident.

  1. Delayed Discovery: courts may modify the statute of limitations deadline for plaintiffs who did not discover and were not aware of any facts which could cause a reasonable person to suspect that they had suffered harm caused by someone else’s wrongful conduct. Civ.Proc. §352. For example, this includes discovering serious and severe injuries such as a traumatic brain injury a number of years after your auto accident which did not make themselves aware at any time shortly following the accident.
  2. Minors: courts may also modify the statute of limitations in cases where the injured person was a minor at the time of the event. Being a minor means that the person may have, “lacked the capacity to make legal decisions.” In cases involving minors, the clock for the statute of limitations could also be construed to start not on the day of the accident, but on the day that the individual turns 18. Civ.Proc. §352
  3. The Defendant Leaves: courts may also extend or modify the statute of limitations in instances where the person who cause the injury (also known as the defendant) leaves the state of California at some point after causing the accident, before the plaintiff could file a personal injury claim. Civ.Proc. §351

In any case, it is always the best option to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if you think that you may have a personal injury claim and are not sure about the statute of limitations on filing your claim with your, or the defendant’s insurance company. Consulting with an attorney can help you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

If you or someone you know has been injured following, or as a result of being involved in a car accident, The Heidari Law Group can help you recover damages as a result of your injuries. With offices in Fresno, California, Sacramento, California, Los Angeles, California, Irvine, California, San Jose, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada, the Heidari Law Group has qualified attorneys who are experts in navigating personal injury claims with insurance companies. Whether you are filing within your statute of limitations or outside of it, the experienced attorneys at Heidari Law Group will be able to discuss with you all of the options you have available to you.

Regardless of whether you’ve been in a car accident in California or Nevada, an experienced accident lawyer at Heidari Law Group is able to assist you at every step of your recovery process and ensure that you are equipped with all the tools that you need in order to receive fair compensation. Reach out to our offices and call for a free consultation today!

***Disclaimer: This blog is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this blog, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law

Sam Heidari

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