Time May Be Running Out On Your Rear-End Accident Claim

Being involved in a rear-end accident is at least annoying, and sometimes it’s life-altering. Rear-end accidents aren’t always fender benders in parking lots. The damage and injuries sustained in a rear-end collision can be severe. 

Regardless of the severity of your accident, you don’t want to wait too long to file a claim. The statute of limitations in a rear-end collision starts the minute the accident occurs. If you wait too long to file a claim you may not be eligible to receive any compensation for your damages.

How Long Do You Have to File a Claim in a Rear-End Accident

Like most states, laws routinely change and this applies to Florida’s statute of limitations in personal injury cases. Yes, your rear-end accident is considered a personal injury law. The law doesn’t specify the type of accident, so most car collisions fall under personal injury guidelines.

Currently, you have two years to file an injury and property damage claim in a rear-end collision. Before 2023, you had four years to file an injury claim. The clock starts ticking on the accident date and there are very few exceptions. 

So, what are the exceptions to the two-year statute? Minors injured in a rear-end accident typically have seven years to file a claim. If they turn 18 before the seven-year extension is up, the statute of limitations kicks in. From their 18th birthday, minors have two years to file a claim for their damages.

You may also be eligible for an extension if your injuries leave you unconscious or in a coma. However, this exception can be complicated. Sometimes, a loved one will need to follow the statute of limitations even if you’re unable to participate in your injury claim.

The good news is that the statute of limitations ends as soon as you start the claim process. This means once you file a claim with your insurance company, you’re no longer facing a two-year deadline. Since personal injury claims can drag on for months and occasionally years, sometimes 24 months isn’t enough time to resolve your accident case.

Something else to consider is Florida’s no-fault injury rule. This can also affect how long you have to file a claim in a rear-end accident.

No-Fault Insurance and the Statute of Limitations

Okay, don’t worry if you’re not familiar with no-fault insurance laws. Only 12 states, including Florida, follow the often confusing guidelines. No-fault insurance rules dictate that everyone involved in an auto accident must file their injury claims with their personal injury protection carrier (PIP).

All owners of vehicles registered in Florida must carry PIP insurance. The policy has a minimum cap of $10,000 to cover medical expenses sustained in a vehicle accident. The insurance covers up to 80% of the $10,000 cap. If you have remaining expenses after using PIP, your next step is to sue the at-fault driver.

So, how does this affect the statute of limitations? Not all insurance companies follow the two-year time limit. Insurance providers can set statutes of limitations that are different from state guidelines. This means instead of having two years to file a claim, you may only have 30 days. 

A good tip is to ask your insurance company before signing a policy. Sometimes, 30 days isn’t enough time to file a claim after being involved in a rear-end accident.

Meeting the Deadline in Your Rear-End Accident Claim

Depending on the deadline set down by your auto insurance provider, you may feel a little rushed to meet the statute of limitations. Remember, not all insurance companies allow two years. If you miss a deadline then you may not be able to file for compensation unless you qualify for an exemption.

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help ensure you’re meeting both state and insurance company deadlines.

Don’t Put Off Seeing a Physician

If your injuries sustained in a rear-end collision aren’t severe, there’s a good chance you’re not going to take an ambulance ride to the hospital. Instead, you need to make an immediate appointment with a licensed medical professional.

Not only is this being proactive about your health, some injuries take a while to show symptoms, but you’re also helping to get your claim moving. You need to supply medical documentation to support your injury claim. In other words, you can’t fill out the insurance paperwork without providing proof of your injuries.

Get a Copy of Your Accident Report

Your official accident report is usually ready within seven business days, and don’t wait to get a copy for yourself. This doesn’t mean hounding the responding officers daily to finish up your accident report; just be ready to get a copy as soon as it’s ready.

Your accident report serves a few purposes. The report contains critical details about the accident, often including who’s the at-fault driver. The report also proves the accident occurred, and you’re not making a fraudulent insurance claim.

Getting your accident report is also easy, which is another reason not to put it off. You can request a copy online and print it out at home. There is a small fee, usually around $10, for your copy.

Get All of Your Documents in Order

Your documents include your medical records, accident report, and any property damage bills and/or estimates. 

If you’re claiming non-economic damages, now’s the time to calculate these expenses. Oh, and don’t forget to deduct the expenses covered by PIP since you can’t claim the same expense twice. This is a great way of getting your rear-end accident tossed out.

Once you have your documents together and calculate your damages, it’s time to start negotiating with the insurance company. This is also when it’s a good idea to work with a personal injury attorney if you haven’t already contacted one.

Don’t Let the Clock Run Out on Your Rear-End Collision Claim

The statute of limitations imposed by the state and your insurance provider starts the day the accident occurs. This means you don’t want to wait too long to start the claim process. 

While some of the steps you can handle by yourself, it’s always best to work with an experienced personal injury attorney. They will help ensure you meet every deadline you face, regardless of who sets it down.