There are not many periods of our life that are as stressful as the time following a car accident. As well as dealing with injuries and the mental side effects of a traumatic event, you also have to consider your next steps. You may need to deal with your own auto insurance company and potentially the other driver’s insurance company.
You might be wondering how long you have to report your accident and whether you actually need to file a car insurance claim.
All of the answers depend on a range of different factors, including how severe your accident was and your insurance company policy. However, the insurance policy often gives you 24 hours to inform them of an accident. And when it comes to making a claim, Florida Statue 95.11, gives you four years to do so.
It is a good idea to seek advice from a personal injury lawyer before informing your insurance company of a car accident. Your insurance company is like any other big company, their main priority is profit, and anything you say to them could be used to devalue your claim. Therefore, when you do inform them, you should be as vague as possible.
This is why we highly advise that you at least take the free consultation that The Law Place offers. This way, you can get some free, no strings attached information and advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer on what is your best course of action. Florida accident law can be complex and tricky to navigate and having a knowledgeable attorney on your side can make everything that little bit easier.
Our phone lines are always open, so contact us today on (888) 490-5536.
How Long Do I Have to Contact My Insurance Company?
After you have dealt with the more important things, like your health and the health of others involved in the accident, the daunting task of sorting out liability and compensation will probably be occupying most of your thoughts. Especially if you have substantial property damage or mounting medical bills to deal with.
If you are wondering whether there are any deadlines as to how quickly you have to report your incident to your insurance company, there isn’t a universally correct answer.
The answer will depend entirely on your insurance company and their policies, as well as the individual details of your insurance policy.
Often, there is no dedicated deadline or time slot. Instead, they will usually state that you should report your accident in a prompt manner or as soon as reasonably possible. These are vague answers that basically state that you are not required to contact them immediately, but you should do it as soon as possible.
Most insurance companies will expect you to inform the police of your accident within 24 hours, although again, it will often be worded as “as soon as possible.”
How Long After an Accident, Can You File a Claim?
Even though you may be pressured by your insurance company to make a claim as soon as possible, you are completely within your right to wait, as long as you stick to Florida’s Statute of Limitations. Under these laws, you have four years from the date of the accident to lodge a claim.
However, in order to file a claim, you will need a police report. Under Florida Statute 316.062, you have to contact the police at the scene of the accident if there has been substantial damage or injuries.
If the police are not required at the scene, this under Florida Statute 316.066, you are still legally required to inform the police after any accident and you have ten days to do so. This can be done by contacting your local police department or on the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) website.
Insurance companies will usually state in their policy that if you plan to open a claim as a result of an accident, that you do it as soon as possible. This isn’t a one size fits all policy; however, so do not worry if it takes a couple of weeks before you feel ready to do so.
If you are not quite ready to speak to someone about a claim, we advise you to take note of everything that happened as soon as possible and to record all medical bills, property damage and any other bills relating to a change in your quality of life as a result of the accident.
What Happens if I Wait to File a Claim?
One reason that you may wait to file a claim with your insurance company is when you are still dealing with treatment and injuries from the accident. If you immediately and hastily file a claim, you may not be entitled to seek coverage for other problems that happen later down the road.
We advise that you file a claim as soon as you are ready.
Why Filing Sooner Is Better Than Later
While there are several reasons why you might consider waiting to start your claim process with your insurance company, for the majority of people, filing sooner is better than later.
The main downside to delaying a claim is that you will be waiting longer for compensation. You will be out of pocket if you have to foot the cost of any damages incurred from the accident. Even worse, if you delay too long, the outcome might be even worse than a slow delayed payment, it could result in no payment from your insurance company at all.
As we have already talked about, if you do not file a claim within the state statute designated time period (4 years), you will forever be banned from making a claim related to that accident.
Even if you wait a couple of months, you could be jeopardizing your chances of compensation. The further away you get from the incident, the harder it is to collect evidence and defend your claim with your car insurance company.
The sooner after the accident, the easier your attorney will find it to investigate. The longer you wait, the harder the trail is to pick up, CCTV could be wiped, witnesses could be harder to find, all of which could lead to a failed claim attempt.
Some Tips for a Successful Claim
Here are some simple but effective tips to maximize your chances of winning your claim.
- When you report the accident to the police, ask for the officer’s information so you can get a police report. Police reports are very valuable in proving liability in court.
- Write down as much information you can about the accident, record the other driver’s contact information, car details, and get the other driver’s insurance company details.
- A great thing to do is to draw a sketch of the accident as soon as possible. Draw the road and the cars involved with arrows to describe the direction they were traveling.
- Take as many pictures as you can, of damages and injury and everything else that might be helpful.
- Keep copies of everything, every single document and every single correspondence should be kept. Being strict with this is vital if you want the best chances in court.
Contact The Law Place Today!
Here at The Law Place, we have over 70 years of combined experience in dealing with traffic incidents just like yours. We have seen it all, and our team of knowledgeable lawyers will give you the best chance at successfully seeking the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today, and we can arrange a free consultation. In this quick phone call, one of our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys will give you the best unbiased information and advice. This advice has no strings attached, and you are not tied into anything afterward. If you decide you want us to represent you, we can take the reins. We will liaise on your behalf and do everything for you, and you can then sit back and focus on your physical and mental recovery.
What are you waiting for? Contact us on (888) 490-5536 today and let us seek the compensation you rightfully deserve.