How Long After an Accident Can You File a Claim?

Earlier this month on the blog, we talked about what to do if you get into an accident. With the initial shock of the crash now behind you, it’s important to deal with the aftermath of the incident – including filing a claim with your insurance company (#adulting). What may initially seem as a priority might slowly start to slip on your to-do list when life happens. So, how long after an accident can you file a claim? When is too late?

How-Long-After-an-Accident-Can-You-File-a-Claim

From serious to a minor fender bender, a car accident can have a major effect on more than just your car insurance premium. Did you know that each state has different laws and statutes of limitations on claims and lawsuits filed? Let’s unpack some of the statute of limitations on claims and lawsuits in each state.

Technically, if you’ve gotten into an accident, you have until the end of the statute of limitations window to file a claim in your state. Even if you’ve switched insurance companies, or cancelled your policy, you can still file a claim as long as you were insured during the time of the accident.

Also, it’s important to note that the terms “claims” and “lawsuits” are essentially interchangeable in this situation. If state law notes that you have two years to file a lawsuit, this also means that you have two years to file a claim. After this period of time, however, you will no longer have legal resource to recover any damages that incurred as a result of the crash.

Below is a list of time frames, outlined by state. All fifty states have these claims broken out into two categories – property/collision/comprehensive damage and injury. Some states have regulated that they are the same period of time, while others are different. Take a peek below to see what the statute of limitations are in your state.

StateProperty/Collision/Comprehensive DamageInjury
Alabama2 years2 years
Alaska2 years2 years
Arizona2 years2 years
Arkansas3 years3 years
California2 years2 years
Colorado3 years3 years
Connecticut2 years2 years
Delaware2 years2 years
Florida4 years4 years
Georgia4 years2 years
Hawaii2 years2 years
Idaho2 years2 years
Illinois5 years2 years
Indiana2 years2 years
Iowa5 years2 years
Kansas2 years1 year
Kentucky2 years1 year
Louisiana1 year1 year
Maine6 years6 years
Maryland3 years3 years
Massachusetts3 years3 years
Michigan3 years3 years
Minnesota6 years6 years
Mississippi3 years3 years
Missouri5 years5 years
Montana2 years3 years
Nebraska4 years4 years
Nevada1 year1 year
New Hampshire3 years3 years
New Jersey2/4 years2/4 years
New Mexico4 years3 years
New York3 years3 years
North Carolina3 years3 years
North Dakota2 years2 years
Ohio2 years2 years
Oklahoma2 years2 years
Oregon6 years2 years
Pennsylvania2 years2 years
Rhode IslandN/A3 years
South Carolina3 years3 years
South Dakota3 years3 years
Tennessee3 years1 year
Texas2 years2 years
Utah3 years4 years
Vermont3 years3 years
Virginia5 years2 years
Washington3 years3 years
West Virginia2 years2 years
Wisconsin3 years3 years
Wyoming4 years4 years

So, why wait? Filing a claim with your insurance company right away does have its benefits. If you file immediately after getting into an accident, you’re giving yourself time to file a lawsuit if negotiations are dragged out. Additionally, if you file a claim right away, you have a greater likelihood of getting paid out by your insurance provider immediately. This is because the insurance company will have a better understanding of what the damage from the accident looks like (as opposed to further damage caused by you or others later down the road – pun definitely intended).

TL;DR – here’s what we have learned:

  • Each state has a different statute of limitations for both property/collision/comprehensive damage claims and injury claims
  • The terms “claims” and “lawsuits” are essentially interchangeable
  • Even if you have switched or canceled your insurance policy, you can still file a claim if you were insured during the time of the accident
  • Just because there is a long time frame for the statute of limitations in your state does not mean that you should wait the full period of time, prior to filing a claim with your insurance company
  • There are benefits to filing a claim right away, such as:
    • Giving yourself more time to file a lawsuit, in case negotiations are dragged out
    • Getting paid out right away by your insurance company because they will have a better understanding of the damage that occurred as a result of the crash

As always, best practices after a car accident include: making a police report and writing down the report number; getting the other driver’s insurance and contact information and writing down the vehicle’s license plate number; assessing the damage to your vehicle and taking photos of both the scene and all vehicles involved; and visiting the doctor (make sure to document everything and keep track of paperwork – you’ll need this information for a personal injury claim).

With Metromile’s 24/7 claims service, there’s an even better reason to file your insurance claim right away. Click here to get a free quote today and stay safe out there on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram