When you’re involved in a car accident, you have a lot to take care of. First, you should get your injuries treated, and you may need to take care of arranging things like child care, sick leave from work, and alternative transportation in the immediate aftermath of the crash. Throughout all of this, the last thing on your mind might be talking to a lawyer or filing a car accident lawsuit. In the end, you might find that 6 months have passed, and you could be wondering whether you can still file a car accident claim. Fayetteville, AR car accident injury lawyer Ken Kieklak explains how you can still file your claim against another driver 6 months later and what to expect with your case.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Arkansas?
Every state has laws known as “statutes of limitations.” A statute of limitations prevents a court case from being filed against the responsible parties too long after the events occur. If you have an unlimited time to file a claim against someone or charge them with a crime, then they could spend years – or the rest of their life – wondering if their mistakes will come back to haunt them. The evidence and witness testimony also go stale in many cases, with camera footage being deleted, documents being shredded, and witnesses forgetting what happened.
To keep cases fresh and fair, Arkansas has a 3-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases, which includes car accident lawsuits. This means that you have 3 years from the time of the accident to get your case filed in court. This gives victims plenty of time to recover from their injuries, assess their situation, tally up the damages in their case, and then shop around for an attorney that fits their needs before they have to file their case.
Note that this deadline is only a filing deadline. There is no expectation that your case must be over and finished within 3 years – though many cases are.
Is 6 Months Too Long to Wait to File an Arkansas Car Accident Lawsuit?
Six months is a somewhat quick timetable for a serious personal injury lawsuit. Many cases are not resolved in the first 6 months, and many cases are not even filed that quickly. When insurance companies are involved and settlement negotiations take place, it might take 6 months before negotiations start to go stale and you move your case to a court of law. Six months is by no means “too long” to wait to file your case.
In many cases, victims are not ready to file their case in the first 6 months. If you suffered serious injuries, getting those injuries treated and working on your rehabilitation and physical therapy should be your first priority. Victims suffering from traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injury, or amputation from a car accident could face long roads to recovery, and 6 months might not be enough to get them ready to even consider meeting with lawyers or sitting down for depositions.
How Quickly Should I File My Car Accident Claim in Arkansas?
Although you have up to 3 years to file your claim, it is usually better to file your case much sooner. The closer to the time of the accident you file your claim, the more serious and urgent the case might look. However, limitations caused by injuries, scheduling conflicts, and evidence collection could delay your case for quite some time. Even though it might take you a while to file your case, you should work with an attorney as soon as you can.
Talking to a lawyer early on in the process can help set you up for success from the beginning. If your lawyer is brought on early, they can help gather evidence before it is destroyed or lost – which is incredibly important for security camera footage or traffic camera footage that might have caught the accident on film.
Your lawyer can also help you monitor and record your progress during your recovery. Collecting photos of the injuries and recording your progress to document the pain and suffering you faced can be incredibly important in proving damages in your case. Your lawyer can also help you avoid losing money through insurance settlements and other claims that might drain your resources while you await the resolution of your later lawsuit.
Each case is unique, and your lawyer can give you a better idea of how quickly you should file your case. Still, most cases should be filed well before the 3-year deadline just in case there are issues. In some cases, you might only find out after the case is filed that it was filed in the wrong courthouse or that you sued the wrong driver. You might also learn that the driver was a commercial driver, and you could need to amend the lawsuit to include additional defendants, like the trucking company for commercial truck accident claims or the bus company for bus accidents in Fayetteville. Leaving yourself time to correct these issues or re-file your claim is important.
Call Our Fayetteville, AR Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Case Consultation
If you can file your case in the first 6 months, it might be very beneficial, but it is by no means required. Still, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as you can to get your case on track and start the process of getting the compensation you need. Call Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak today to set up a no-obligation, free legal consultation to discuss your potential claim. Call our office today at (479) 316-0438 to set up your free case consultation.