There is nothing easy about experiencing an auto accident. From the pain and suffering to the property damage, the recovery period, and the emotional distress, a car crash can profoundly impact your entire life.
On top of all that pain and disruption, you’re also left to figure out a complex insurance claims process. Accidents cause injuries and cost money. If someone else’s careless driving was at fault, you shouldn’t be the one to pay those costs on your own. In fact, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation under Ohio personal injury law.
But how can you make sure you’re getting the money you deserve? Do you need to take action quickly? How long do you have to make a claim after a car accident in Columbus, OH?
To answer that question, you need to understand the statute of limitations for auto accidents in Ohio and how it impacts the personal injury claims process.
What Does a Statute of Limitations Mean?
“Statute of limitations” may sound like an archaic legal term, but at brass tacks, it’s a fairly straightforward concept.
Different types of personal injury claims have different time limits. That time limit is called the statute of limitations. Once the time limit expires, the victim can’t file a lawsuit to claim compensation for the accident anymore.
We sometimes hear from clients who thought a “statute of limitations” would only apply in a criminal case. While it is true that the criminal justice system has its own statutes of limitations, civil cases have statutes of limitations too (entirely separate from the rules in criminal court).
So How Long Do You Have to Make a Claim After a Car Accident in Columbus, OH?
The statute of limitations for auto accident claims in Ohio is two years from the date of the accident. With very few exceptions, you cannot make a claim relating to the accident once this date has passed.
However, if your case involves a claim for wrongful death, the two-year period begins on the date of the death, which might be different than the date of the accident.
I Have Two Whole Years. Why Not Wait?
Auto accident claims take time to prepare. Some cases can be resolved through private settlement without ever going to trial (saving you time and money), but in order to get the fairest settlement possible, you will want to allow time for negotiations. These things can take time.
Moreover, if the insurance company knows you don’t have a lot of time to pursue your claim, they will likely try to use that against you. Waiting until the last minute can give leverage to your opponent.
What if My Damages Get Worse? Should I Wait and See How Bad Things Get Before Taking Action?
As Columbus auto accident lawyers, the earlier we can get involved in a personal injury claim, the more effective we can be. We understand that claims sometimes take a while to mature. For example, victims sometimes learn they need additional medical treatment many months after the accident. Even in those cases, it is in the victim’s best interest to have an attorney on their side as early as possible.
What Happens if I Miss the Statute of Limitations?
Ohio courts will strictly enforce the statute of limitations. Generally speaking, if you miss the two-year time window, you will permanently lose the right to seek compensation for damages related to the accident.
There are a few limited exceptions. For that reason, you should never make assumptions about how long you have to make a claim after a car accident in Columbus, OH. Instead, call our office at Colombo Law and ask what your options might be.
I’m Almost Out of Time. Should I Just Accept the Insurance Settlement?
Insurance adjustors use time pressure as a strategy. They might make you feel like you must take their settlement right away or you won’t get any money at all.
Insurance companies are not on your side, so don’t make decisions about your legal rights based on what they tell you. If the clock is ticking on your claim, call the Columbus auto accident attorneys at Colombo Law immediately. We may be able to take emergency action in appropriate situations.
How Long Should I Wait to Make a Claim After a Car Accident in Columbus, OH?
The bottom line is this: there is no reason to wait before you call a lawyer. We offer free consultations with zero obligations, so when you contact our office, there’s nothing to lose.
We encourage you to schedule a consultation with Colombo Law as soon as possible.
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At Colombo Law, we bring decades of experience to the table, and we put all of it to work for you.
We are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to get our clients the largest amount of money possible.
We proudly serve auto accident victims all across the state of Ohio — including, Columbus, Chillicothe, Circleville, Heath, Hebron, Lancaster, New Lexington, Newark, Pataskala, Westerville, and beyond.