3 Things You Need to Know About the Legal Side of Car Accidents
There are a lot of factors to consider when you find yourself in a car accident. First things first: you’re grateful to be ok. Second, you want to be sure to get the contact information of the other parties involved, call the police, and take inventory of the situation as best you can. Then, you want to be sure that any medical issues are handled and get your car repaired or replaced.
But after those initial issues are taken care of, it is important to understand that a car accident does not always just fade into memory. If you find reason, you can bring a lawsuit against the other party—and vice versa—but there is a time limit on these cases, referred to legally as a “statute of limitations.” If you want to file a lawsuit in regard to a car accident, here is what you should know about the statute of limitations.
1) Statute of Limitations Varies by State
There is no federal statute of limitations for car accidents, so you will want to check with the state where the accident took place to learn the rules. Most states have a two-year statute of limitations on car accidents. But some places, like Illinois, allow five years. Do a basic Internet search with the name of your state and the words “car accident statute of limitations” to see what you can find. Contacting a lawyer who specializes in auto accidents is another way to find the answers and determine if you have a case.
2) The Type of Lawsuit Makes a Difference
Do you plan to file a civil lawsuit that relates to the car damage? Or is there criminal negligence involved, particularly in the case of a death? It also makes a difference if your case involves another individual or a corporation—the statute of limitations may change based on those factors.
3) You Need Detailed Documentation
It can be difficult to think logically in the midst of a car accident, but if you take the proper steps upfront, filing a lawsuit will be much easier down the road. Here are a few things that you should always do following a car accident.
- Take plenty of pictures. Use your cell phone to snap photos of your vehicle and the other vehicle or property involved, and be sure to take a step back, zoom out, and document the whole scene. For example, if there is an extenuating circumstance, like a stop sign with poor visibility, take a photo of that too. You may even want to keep a disposable camera in your glove compartment or trunk in the event that your phone is damaged in the accident and unable to take photos.
- Find a witness. If possible, find someone who saw the accident. Get the contact information of that person (or several people) to keep in case you need it later on. You may even want to contact them within the first week after the accident and ask for their statements before the details of what they saw are forgotten. If possible, record their account of the incident on a voice recorder.
- Write down your own account. Once you are in a safe place, jot down the details of what happened for your own recollection. If you decide to take legal action down the road, you may have forgotten some of what happened, and even the most minor details can make or break a lawsuit.
If you are wondering if your car accident qualifies for a lawsuit, or a lawsuit has been brought against you and you aren’t sure what to do next, contact a lawyer. Find out what the rules are in your state and what steps you should take moving forward. Trouble finding information on the Statute of Limitations California? Contact a car accident lawyer in California now!