The aftermath of a car crash could leave you confused as to what steps to take next. Many victims of car crashes might take a year to recover and get their life back on track before thinking about how to get medical bills and lost wages covered. If you were injured in an accident and have gone a year without talking to a lawyer or filing a case, you might be wondering whether it is too late to file. Fayetteville, AR car accident lawyer Ken Kieklak explains how long you have to file your car accident case and how you can still file a claim after the first anniversary of your accident.
The Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Lawsuits in Arkansas
If you were injured in a car crash, the “statute of limitations” in Arkansas will dictate how long you have to file your case. A statute of limitations is a law that puts deadlines on every court case from breach of contract claims to personal injury lawsuits to criminal charges. In most cases, injury claims must be filed within 3 years of the injury. Injuries can be incredibly tough to deal with, especially if you suffered serious conditions and need time to recover, research what happened, talk to a car accident lawyer, develop your case, and then file it. In some cases, people aren’t nearly ready to file their claim in the first year after their injury.
The statute of limitations is designed to create a cutoff point for a few important reasons. First off, any car accident case filed so long after the accident usually runs into issues with the quality of evidence and testimony available. If videos, photos, records, and documents have been lost or destroyed over time or as part of a retention policy, moving forward with the claim can be difficult. Eyewitnesses and the people involved might have also forgotten what happened if the case goes too long before being filed. Second, the at-fault parties could go through life checking over their shoulder, wondering if the claim will ever be filed, and that’s not always just. Lastly, if the victim waits too long, it might show that the claim wasn’t that important to them.
Many of these considerations also show that it is important to file a claim quickly: you want to make sure that you have fresh evidence and testimony, you want the defendant to know the weight of the harm they caused, and you want the jury to understand how serious the accident was. Because of these considerations, filing your case in a year or less is usually good timing.
Is it Okay to Wait a Year Before Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Arkansas?
In general, the sooner you file your case, the better it is. Your lawyer can begin gathering evidence, building your claim, and getting the preliminary documents and complaints filed in court very quickly in some cases, which gives you an early start on your case. If you wait too long, evidence like traffic camera footage might be lost, and witnesses might start to forget what happened.
Since you have up to 3 years to file your case, there is nothing wrong with waiting a year to file. However, if you can talk to a lawyer and start building your case and preserving evidence, it is better to do that earlier. In many cases, your attorney can begin working on the case in the background while you spend the first year after your crash recovering from injuries and getting your life back on track.
Especially if you faced serious injuries like traumatic brain injury or paralysis from spinal cord injuries, you might not be able to set up a meeting with a lawyer and focus on your case until after a year or more. The 3-year statute of limitations is designed to take these kinds of issues into account, and it is perfectly legal to wait a year before filing.
Filing Arkansas Car Insurance Claims and Lawsuits After 1 Year
If you do file your case around or after the anniversary of your car accident, there are certain issues you might need to deal with. First, your lawyer will often have more trouble gathering documentation, video, and photos related to the accident. It is important to have someone get this kind of information for you if you are planning not to work with a lawyer until some time after the crash. If you are able to get photos of the crash scene or a loved one can take pictures for you, getting this information as soon as possible is important.
As your case progresses, depositions and witness testimony will be important evidence in your case. It is important to have good records of what happened so that you can reference things like journals or notes later to help refresh your recollection about what happened. It is also important to make sure that your story is consistent, as any prior statements you’ve made about how the accident happened could be used against you if they contradict your current story.
Talk to a lawyer about how we can help establish the narrative of what happened and make sure that the facts of your case can be clearly conveyed to a judge and jury.
Call Our Fayetteville, Arkansas Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Legal Consultation
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is a Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer with decades of experience helping injury victims file car accident cases against at-fault drivers, trucking companies, and other responsible parties. Ken fights to get you and your family the compensation you need. A year is by no means “too late” to file your case, but it is important to get to work right away. Call our law offices to set up a free legal consultation on your car accident case. Our number is (479) 316-0438.