How Quickly Do You Need To Start A Personal Injury Claim?

In the weeks following an accident, it can feel like there's a lot to deal with. You may face medical bills, lost wages, and other pressures. Likewise, you might have to deal with surgeries, the recovery process, therapy, and rehabilitation.

This can leave you with the sense you need to start an injury claim as soon as possible. Some folks are surprised when they meet with a personal injury attorney and learn that lawyers rarely want to move fast on claims. Let's discuss why that is and what might be some of the exceptions.

Statute Of Limitations

Virtually all U.S. states have at least a two-year statutory limit on filing claims. This means an injured person has two years from the date of an accident to formally demand compensation from a defendant. For that reason, a personal injury lawyer usually doesn't want to bring a case any sooner than they have to. Attorneys want to gather evidence, see how much a client recovers, and get a sense of how long-lasting a client's injuries may be.

Note this is a good reason to contact a law firm early. You don't want to wait until you're up against the statute of limitations to start building a case. A personal injury attorney will need time to assemble evidence and testimony. Likewise, they'll need to write a demand letter stating why you are entitled to compensation and how much they believe the defendant owes.

Cases Involving State Governments

A notable case where the statute of limitations can work against you is filing a claim against a state agency. Some states have laws covering what happens if the government is the defendant. Many of those states shorten the statute of limitations to a few months, and that may pressure a personal injury lawyer and their client to move much faster.

How Long Will The Case Take?

A lot depends on the extent and nature of the injuries. If someone broke their forearm, for example, their attorney will want to see how well the arm heals. Is there nerve damage or bone regrowth trouble that might inhibit lifelong use of the arm?

Once a lawyer is confident they know the extent of a client's injuries, they'll want to file the claim. The defendant or their insurance provider will only have a few weeks from receiving the demand letter to decide whether to accept or reject the claim. There may be negotiations, too. If all goes well, the cases could settle within a few months.  

Contact a personal injury attorney to learn more.