After car accidents, the incident should be reported to the authorities as well as the insurance policy providers of the drivers in question. Some jurisdictions require motorists to report accidents to law enforcement officials immediately. However, uniform laws do not typically govern the time frames for making reports to insurance providers.
The main determining factor in how long an individual has to report an accident to their insurer is how long their policy gives them to do so. For instance, most policies do not penalize motorists for failing to report accidents right away or even more than 24 hours after the incident. However, some suggest that a person should begin the process of filing the claim as soon as possible because if they are unable to meet deadlines that were previously determined, they might not be able to obtain benefits.
On the other hand, most states apply the statute of limitations to determine how long an individual has to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in court. These periods vary for different kinds of settlement cases, such as personal injury and property damage, and they are also contingent upon the local laws governing the parties involved in the accident. As such, it is usually best to notify insurers promptly to account for time required to assess damage, review supporting evidence and negotiate a satisfactory settlement amount.
Finally, remember that waiting overly long to report accidents may affect the viability of the claim even if the statute of limitations does not come into play. For instance, in claims involving vehicles that sustained so much damage they were declared as total losses, insurers may decide to deduct rust and other damage from the actual cash value of the vehicle. Although this usually only applies to damage that occurred prior to the accident, delaying a report unnecessarily could make determining the extent of the damage difficult. To learn more about reporting accidents and filing claims, contact a lawyer.