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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident to Your Insurance?


If you were injured in a car accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. After that, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. You might also want to search for a good lawyer that can help you with dealing with all formalities.

Legal cases connected with car accidents can be complicated, so the sooner you get in touch with an attorney, the better. By hiring a professional, you can avoid bitter consequences and get the chance to receive some compensation.

No one wants an accident, but when that happens to you, you should know how to behave and what to do. Even if you were not injured, you need to act promptly to get an insurance payment. This article is going to answer the most important steps of the way of reporting a car accident.

How long do you have to call?

How Long Do You Have to Call Your Insurance Company After an Accident?

In every state, you can find different regulations regarding the time that you have to file a lawsuit. The window of time that you have to submit documents is regulated by the statute of limitation. Depending on the area that you live in, you have a different time to file a claim after a car accident.

Remember, that statute of limitations is something regulated by the state. When it comes to your insurance company, the policy regarding the claims process might be a bit different. Most insurance providers expect you to file a claim right away, almost at the time of the car crash. An insurance company might give you 24 hours from the time when your car was damaged.

If you don't report an accident soon after it happened, your insurance company might become suspicious. As the insurer wants to limit the money you get, they might investigate to check if the injury appeared because of the accident and if the accident wasn't your fault. If they have any reason to suspect that the claim is not legit, they might deny you getting compensation. In case of an accident when you got injured, do your best to get a personal injury lawyer promptly. Usually, an insurance claim can fall under one of two statutes of limitation:

  • a time limit for a claim after an accident in which you obtain a personal injury,

  • a time limit for any other type of claim, such as another person's vehicle damage, collision damage, or comprehensive damage, for example, theft.

Is There a Time Limit to File a Claim on Car Insurance?

As long as you work within the time frame of the statute of limitations, you don't need to apply to the shorter time frame that is marked on the legal documents that you signed with an insurance company. Some of the damages, whether mechanical or in your body, might appear days or even weeks after a car collision happened.

Do I Have to Report an Accident to the Law Enforcement?

You might be wondering, what happens if you don't report a car accident? When you got into a car collision, you should exchange contact information, such as phone numbers, with other drivers and potential eyewitnesses on the site of the incident. Be sure that you got all the driver's insurance information. In each state, drivers are obligated to answer questions related to their insurance.

In case the other driver doesn't want to cooperate with you, or when you suspect they might not have insurance, contact law enforcement right away to get help with obtaining that information.

Even when the other driver is cooperative, you might have an argument regarding who caused an accident. In that case, you need a legal assistant on the site. Thanks to this, the investigators can record interviews and have drivers and witnesses answer their questions. Moreover, they can record physical evidence at the site, including things as debris, skid marks, etc.

Another reason to call for the assistance of law enforcement is that you might be injured. As long as you don't feel pain, you might believe that nothing happened to you. However, that doesn't mean that you were not injured. You might even share this information with another driver, who is at the fault for the crash. You have to remember that very often injuries appear long after an accident. If you don't have a witness that can confirm what happened, you might have a problem with winning your legal case, even with the help of the best attorney.

If your collision happened because of extreme weather, you might contact 911, but they can tell you they cannot come if you were not injured. In this situation, head to the nearby gas station or convenience store. They might have a collision claim that you and another person who is there with you can fill. After that, send it via mail to the local legal agency.

How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident?

As mentioned before, the claim's filing time depends on the area where you are located. In case of a minor collision, there might be no need for filing a claim at the police station. Remember, that most of the states require you to report collisions if the costs related to it are higher than $2,000 of property damage.

As you know, some damages can appear long after the collision happened. For example, very common injury as whiplash can appear months after the car collision. This is why you should report a car accident immediately after it happened, no matter the time limits. The law enforcement is going to prepare a police report for you. Then you only have to take care of filling for your insurance claim. Thanks to this, your lawyer is going to be able to win your claim and get insurance coverage even long after the event.

Remember, that even if your state gives you quite big time limits, you do best by filing a claim with law enforcement as soon as possible.

What if its just a minor accident?

Should I Tell My Insurance Company About a Minor Accident?

If you contact your insurance company even after a minor accident, you have better chances of winning an insurance claim. Do it especially when the car accident includes another car or when you got injured. If you wait with contacting your insurance provider, you might lose your claim.

Some people who got involved in an auto collision, search for ways to avoid reporting those events to the insurer for two reasons:

  • they are afraid that after submitting a claim, their car insurance payment is going to increase,

  • they assume that they can "work out things" without having any claims filed,

Insurance companies require their users to fill the claim after any collisions they were involved with. If you fail to file the claim, you might receive penalties.

In a situation when the claims are not written down on the scene of the event, you might obtain various complications later. You might agree with another person that the things are ok. Then imagine, that other person discovers weeks later that their car has severe damages, or that they got injured. This can happen often when determining who is at fault in a car accident changing lanes.

They might search for your data and then contact you to get money. Your insurance policy clearly highlights that you have to report every event, so if someone reaches you and the accident is not reported, you might have a problem with filing insurance claims. That means that by avoiding an increase in your vehicle insurance, you can face much more monetary losses down the road.

The only time that it might be reasonable to not report the accident to your insurance company is when a collision happened in your vehicle and on your property. No injuries appeared and the only property damaged is your own. For example, you backed into the garage door or scraped your car on your driveway. In this situation, there is no reason to search for a guilty person, there is also a very low chance that your insurance company would cover costs of the fix.

Should I Hire an Attorney After an Accident?

With a help of a good attorney, you can win a lawsuit. If you fight on your own, you can lose years and a lot of money. As insurance providers had a lot of attorneys that work for them and because of that winning your claim might be impossible.

Your insurance company might not be willing to cooperate with you. What you can do is search for the best attorney around you. They can help you to prove that a collision didn't happen because of your fault. Thanks to them, you can be sure that the fight is worth it and that you are going to get the money that you expect to.


If you need to file a claim after a car collision, be sure to search for the best attorneys in the area. Check our website to learn what services we offer. We have a vast number of professional attorneys. Thanks to this, you can be sure that your process is not going to take years from your life. We do everything to win your insurance claim promptly.


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