Car accidents can be life-altering. It can be incredibly hard to move on with your life after a serious accident, especially if you are focusing on recovering from traumatic injuries or disabilities. In some cases, it might be more than a year before you find yourself in a situation where you can start considering options for how to pay for your medical bills, how to cover your lost wages, and how to possibly receive compensation for the harm you suffered. Fayetteville, AR car accident lawyer Ken Kieklak discusses the deadlines for filing a car accident case and explains why even 18 months is still not too late to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Can You File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Arkansas after a Year and a Half?
In almost every type of court case, there is a “statute of limitations” that dictates how long the victim has to file their case. In most personal injury lawsuits in Arkansas, which includes lawsuits for car accident injuries, the statute of limitations is 3 years. This means that you must file your lawsuit within 3 years of the date of the accident.
If you wait 18 months, you are actually only halfway to the filing deadline. This long deadline gives victims plenty of flexibility to recover from their injuries, shop around for an injury attorney they can trust, and get the case filed. However, there are important considerations to take into account.
What Happens if You Wait Too Long to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Arkansas?
If you take too long to get your case filed, you could face serious problems with evidence, witness testimony, and the statute of limitations.
It is important in any car accident case in Arkansas to act quickly to gather evidence. Traffic cameras or security cameras might have captured the crash on camera, but if you wait too long to ask for these videos to be preserved, the footage might be overwritten or discarded according to retention policies. Similarly, waiting too long to take photographs of the scene could mean that you have no visual evidence of what the accident looked like. If cars are moved or repaired, there will be less evidence to show the jury.
If you gather the evidence you need and take steps to preserve it right away, then there might not be any evidence issues. In that case, it might not matter if you wait a year, 18 months, or 2 years and 364 days – your case is still “on time” if it is filed within 3 years.
Even if evidence can be preserved, human memory cannot be preserved very well. The parties involved in the accident and the witnesses who saw what happened might forget details or forget the entire accident if you wait too long to ask them about what happened. It is much better for your case if you have statements and testimony taken soon after the crash while the information is fresh in the witnesses’ minds.
In many cases, recorded statements, journal entries, and conversations with other people can provide earlier statements to help refresh the witnesses’ memories of what happened. However, these statements might also be good evidence to use against the witnesses if their stories have changed over time. The longer you wait to file, the harder it can be to present an accurate, consistent narrative.
Statute of Limitations and Case Dismissals
If your case is filed after 3 years, the case can be automatically dismissed by the court. In some cases, some laws might extend your deadline to file, but this is rare. If you file your case within the 3-year deadline, you could still run into issues if your case needs to be refiled. It might take months or years to notice details in evidence that might show that additional parties shared liability, that the driver was working for a commercial trucking company at the time of the accident, or that the accident actually occurred across county lines.
To add additional parties to a lawsuit, such as the trucking company in a truck accident lawsuit in Fayetteville – or anywhere else in Arkansas – you must still file within the 3-year statute of limitations. You must also come in under this deadline if you need to refile the case in a different court. If you wait too long and find problems with your case as filed, it could be too late to refile your claim.
Is it Too Late to Talk to an Arkansas Car Accident Lawyer about a Case after 18 Months?
Injury attorneys understand that car accidents can cause catastrophic injuries and that victims might not be ready to come forward and accuse someone of hurting them for months after an accident. Our attorneys can start working on your case from the beginning if you contact us, working in the background to gather evidence and build a case while you recover. However, our attorneys are more than happy to take cases that happened 18 months ago – or even earlier – as long as we still have a fighting chance to get the case filed and work to get you the compensation you need.
Call Our Fayetteville Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Case Consultation
Call our law offices and set up a free legal consultation on your case today. The sooner your case is filed, the better it usually is, but our attorneys might still be able to take your case and fight to get you the compensation you need if you waited 18 months after your accident. Call Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak today at (479) 316-0438 to set up your free legal consultation and get your case started.