What If I Delayed My Car Accident Claim?
Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is far from enjoyable. It is a stressful time full of uncertainties about your health and finances. For one reason or another, you may have put off taking care of your car accident claim
. If you did delay your car accident claim, it isn’t necessarily too late to go after compensation for your injuries
Reasons a Car Accident Claim May Be Delayed
There are many reasons people delay filing a car accident claim. To start with, most people don’t know what to do after a car accident
, which may cause them to do, or not do, certain things that can hurt their personal injury claim. Some of the most common reasons people delay car accident claims include not knowing that their injuries were serious, not knowing that they could seek compensation, or because dealing with their injuries was more important. Further, some try to handle the claim on their own not knowing the risks involved, or unwisely decide to trust an insurance adjuster.
Personal Injury Claim Delay 1: You Didn’t Know Your Injuries Were Serious
Getting any necessary medical treatment is one of the most important steps to take immediately after a car accident. However, many injured drivers and passengers
delay contacting an attorney because they think their injuries are minor and not worth pursuing. As weeks or months pass by, they begin to realize their aches and pains aren’t going away and their medical bills are stacking up.
Car accident injuries that aren’t healing are a sign of something more serious going on. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor and contact an accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Further, if you have put off getting the care you need, know that it is critical—not only for your health but also for your car accident claim—that you seek medical treatment
for your injuries. When someone delays medical treatment, it also means that it may be harder to make a connection between your car accident and your injuries. Take for example back pain caused by a rear-end accident. If you do not immediately seek medical treatment, it can be harder to prove that that injury was directly caused by the collision.
Hiring an experienced attorney
when you have delayed getting medical treatment can be helpful in proving that your injuries are related to your recent car accident. When you do finally get diagnosed by a doctor, it may not be enough to prove your claim. An attorney will help to piece together other information that points to the car accident as the source of your injury. This may include your past medical records, missed time from work after the accident, and testimonies from people who know you. Beyond proving your injuries, an experienced personal injury attorney will advocate for the appropriate amount of compensation that you deserve.
That being said, delayed treatment claims can be difficult to prove and injury lawyers are often selective as to the cases they sign up. If the delay is too long given the circumstances, an attorney might not take the case.
Personal Injury Claim Delay 2: You Didn’t Know You Could Seek Compensation
If you’re injured by a car accident, you may not have known that you can seek compensation for your injuries. Chances are, you probably relied solely on your own resources to cover your medical expenses and vehicle repairs after your car accident. It may not be too late to recover those costs from the driver who caused your accident. As long as you can prove what damages your accident caused
, you can seek compensation for those costs and possibly even pain and suffering. Your car accident attorney will help you to prove both liability
and how the accident has impacted you.
Personal Injury Claim Delay 3: Dealing with Your Injuries Was More Important
Injuries that are severe or life-threatening can prevent an accident victim from pursuing a claim in a timely manner. Your injuries might result in a lengthy hospital stay, and you may even be in an unresponsive state. For instance, a traumatic brain injur
y, which is a common type of injury that can occur during a car accident, can lead to a coma
or a significant hospital stay. Or you may have suffered a spinal cord injury
and recovering your health and wellness was just more important than filing an injury claim.
Contacting an attorney shortly after being injured in an accident will help you to get compensation for your injuries and also give you an ally in your recovery. Obtaining legal representation means that someone else will handle the intricacies of getting you compensation while you focus on your recovery.
A lawyer’s experience is especially important in claims made after sustaining catastrophic injuries
. This is because you’ll need substantial compensation to assist with the long-term effects and future medical bills
caused by severe and chronic injuries.
Statute of Limitations in Illinois
The statute of limitations
for car accident claims is two years in Illinois, under most circumstances. This means that you have two years to begin a car accident claim from the date your motor vehicle accident occurred. However, there are shorter and longer statute dates in certain cases, so it’s best to consult with a lawyer ASAP.
Further, it should be noted however that just because you have two years to file a claim does not mean there are no consequences to waiting that long. Delaying a car accident claim can have all types of unintended consequences like lost evidence and lost credibility, which all create an uphill battle.
Delaying a Car Accident Claim Can Make Proving Your Case More Complicated
If you do not file a car accident claim to get compensation for your damages right away, you may find yourself in a difficult circumstance.
The first and most important reason delaying a claim makes proving your case more complicated is that it affects your credibility with the insurance company. Insurance companies send claim adjusters to investigate car accident claims and ensure that they are valid. If you claim you suffered severe injuries but didn’t seek medical treatment right away, the insurance company will likely use this as justification for denying your claim
. They will simply assume that if you didn’t seek immediate treatment, your injuries were not that bad.
It also complicates proving that your injuries were directly caused by your accident. If you suffer a neck injury from a car accident and don’t immediately report it or seek medical treatment, the insurance company can say that your injury was caused by some other factor. For example, maybe you got hurt playing softball or while at work. Because you did not seek treatment immediately, these alternative theories become harder to disprove. Seeking medical attention right away officially documents your injuries and prevents the issue of proving your claim to insurance companies.
Delaying medical treatment after a car accident
may also cause an injury to worsen. Some injuries take days or longer to become noticeable since the adrenaline and shock from an accident can mask the symptoms. If you delay treatment too long, you run the risk of allowing your injuries to get worse by not immediately getting medical treatment. This is especially true for lacerations, soft tissue injuries, neck and back injuries, internal injuries, and brain injuries.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Me?
If you delayed filing a car accident claim in Illinois, a personal injury attorney can help you to gather the evidence you need while assisting you in overcoming the challenges that come with an injury claim. The more time that passes, the more difficult it is to file a successful claim. Accident scenes are cleaned up, evidence goes missing, witnesses are gone, and video footage has been erased from the cloud. But all hope is not lost.
If you are still within the statute of limitations for Illinois personal injury claims, an experienced attorney will be critical in getting proper compensation.
Don’t let your delay in filing an injury claim continue preventing you from seeking compensation.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident but did not file a claim immediately, speak to an attorney at Abels & Annes about your options. Our attorneys will evaluate your case and let you know honestly if you have a viable claim for compensation. If moving forward is possible, we will work diligently to meet the needs of your case and pursue maximum compensation for your injuries. You can contact us online
or call us at 312-924-7575
for a free initial case evaluation.