Do Car Accident Claims Ever Expire?

The sooner you begin the process of making an insurance claim after a car accident, the sooner you will have the opportunity to recover the compensation you deserve.  But acting quickly is more than just a good idea – it’s essential to maximizing your odds of success.  If you wait for too long, you could lose your chance at getting compensated forever.  If you or one of your family members was recently injured in a car collision, you should contact our Oklahoma City car accident lawyers to review your case in a free consultation.

 How Long Do I Have to Make an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma is a fault state with regard to auto insurance.  Unlike drivers in no-fault states, who generally turn to their own insurers with a first-party claim, drivers in fault states like Oklahoma typically make a third-party insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance company.  The driver who is found to be primarily at fault for causing the accident can be held liable for compensating the injury victim, depending on the circumstances of the crash, the severity of the victim’s injuries, and other factors.  Even if you were partially responsible for the crash, you can still potentially be compensated as long as you were less than 51% at fault.  (For more information about this topic, see our article on partial fault for a car accident.

After being involved in a multi-vehicle car accident, the first step is to make sure that everyone is safe and that you have called an ambulance for anyone who was injured.  You should also report the crash to the nearest law enforcement agency, not only because the police accident report can provide helpful information during settlement negotiations, but even more importantly, because it is required by state law.  (Specifically, 47 O.S. § 10-104, requires drivers involved in injury or fatal crashes to “submit to drug and alcohol testing as soon as practicable after such accident occurs,” which means involving the police.)

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After taking care of the safety considerations, you should notify your insurance company immediately.   The precise time limits should be clearly explained in the insurance policy; but if not, you can count on our car accident attorneys to help you clear up ambiguities and interpret every detail.

Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to sweep the accident under the rug.  Far from saving yourself money, you will simply invite hassles and financial losses if you fail to report an accident to your insurance company.

Once the accident has been reported, both insurance companies will assign claims adjusters to investigate the crash and make a determination of fault.  There will likely be a dispute, which can lead to some heated settlement negotiations.  But don’t worry: our attorneys will be there to protect your rights and speak on your behalf.  We have decades of experience and know exactly what sorts of tactics claims adjusters use to try and deny fair coverage.

If an insurance company is pressuring you to accept a settlement, you should contact our attorneys right away.  Resist the pressure to accept an the initial settlement offer – which is likely to be sorely inadequate – until you have reviewed your options with an Oklahoma personal injury lawyer.

What is the Statute of Limitations, and How Does it Affect Injury Compensation?

If negotiating out of court does not resolve the matter, try not to get too discouraged.  As an accident victim, you may still be able to recover compensation through other means.  For instance, you may decide that you wish to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.  In this scenario, a legal deadline called the statute of limitations becomes a vital consideration.

Put simply, the statute of limitations is how long you have to file a lawsuit.  The statute of limitations can vary widely – typically within a range of one to six years – depending on two factors:

  • Which state the accident occurred within.
  • The nature of the cause of action (i.e. the grounds for bringing the lawsuit).

The Oklahoma statute of limitations on personal injury is two years.  The clock starts counting down on the date the injury occurs, which means time is ticking while you go through the out-of-court negotiations process.  The earlier you make your insurance claim, the more time will remain to prepare a lawsuit in the event that negotiations are unsuccessful.

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Yet there’s an even more critical reason to get started early: if the statue of limitations elapses, or “expires,” your case will not be able to move through Oklahoma’s court system.  It will simply be discarded for going over the deadline, which means you will permanently lose your chance to get compensated.

For all of these reasons, if you or one of your loved ones was hurt in a car crash in Oklahoma City, we would encourage you to start assessing your situation with an attorney as soon as possible.  Even if you aren’t completely sure whether you want to take legal action at this stage, it’s still a good idea to review your options early in the process.

Contact an Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyer for Help With Your Legal Matter Today

To learn more in a free, completely confidential consultation, call the law offices of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040.  You won’t be charged a single fee unless we obtain compensation for you.  Our attorneys serve the Oklahoma City area, including Norman, Shawnee, McLoud, Tuttle, Edmond, and other local communities.