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What is the Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents?

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If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover compensation for your injuries. But, the lawsuit must be filed within a certain period of time after the accident occurred or it will be thrown out of court. This period of time is known as the statute of limitations, and it’s important for every car accident victim to be familiar with this law.

The Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Cases Involving Injuries

The statute of limitations on personal injury cases varies from state to state. In the state of Iowa, the statute of limitations on car accident cases involving injuries is two years. This means that people who have been injured in car accidents have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. By filing a lawsuit, these victims may be able to recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering related to their injuries.

The Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Cases Involving Property Damage

Sometimes, people who are involved in car accidents are lucky enough to walk away from the crash without any injuries. Even if an accident does not cause any injuries, the collision could still be powerful enough to cause property damage. The statute of limitations on property damage claims is five years in Iowa. This means car accident victims have five years from the date of the accident to recover compensation for damage to their personal property. Therefore, if you miss the two-year deadline to file a personal injury claim, you still have time to recover compensation for property damage.

Victims should understand that they can recover compensation for any damaged property, not just their vehicle. For instance, if the bike secured to the back of your vehicle was damaged as a result of the collision, the at-fault party’s insurance company would be responsible for this damage. As long as you can provide proof of the damage, you will be able to recover compensation for it.

The Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Cases in Iowa

Sadly, many traffic accidents cause fatal injuries. When a fatal accident occurs, the victim’s surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit instead of a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for their losses. The statute of limitations on wrongful death cases is two years in Iowa. However, the countdown on the two-year clock does not necessarily start on the date the accident occurred. Instead, it starts on the date of the victim’s death.

For example, let’s say someone is involved in a car accident and taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The victim is treated in the hospital for several weeks before passing away as a result of their injuries. In this case, the victim’s family would have two years from the date of the victim’s death, not the date of the accident, to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent driver.

The Clock is Running During Negotiations With Insurance Companies

Most car accident victims will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company prior to filing a lawsuit. In fact, the vast majority of car accident cases are resolved outside of the courtroom through these negotiations. Sometimes, the two parties are able to reach a settlement fairly quickly, however in other cases, the negotiations may continue for well over a year. It’s important for car accident victims to know that the clock is running during the negotiations with the insurance adjuster. You will not be allowed to file a lawsuit after the two-year statute of limitations has passed simply because you were tied up in negotiations.

Insurance adjusters know that, which is why many of them will attempt to stall the negotiations for as long as possible. This is one of the many reasons why it’s in your best interests to work with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney will ensure that the insurance adjuster does not use stall tactics to delay a settlement. If the insurance adjuster is not willing to make a reasonable offer, an attorney will file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations to pursue compensation in court. The lawsuit does not need to be fully resolved by the time the statute of limitations is up, but it does need to be filed.

What Happens If a Lawsuit is Filed Outside of the Statute of Limitations?

Some car accident victims attempt to file a lawsuit outside of the statute of limitations even though they know their time has run out. When this happens, the defendant named in the lawsuit usually asks the court to dismiss the case since the statute of limitations has expired. The judge presiding over the case will most likely grant the defendant’s request by dismissing the case and releasing the defendant from liability for the accident. Therefore, it is not worth it to attempt to file a lawsuit outside of the two-year window provided by law.

Were you injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver? If so, contact Trial Lawyers for Justice today to schedule a consultation regarding your case. Car accident victims only have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. Two years may seem like a lot of time, but it can go by quickly. For this reason, it’s best to contact our law office as soon as possible after an accident. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will help you seek justice against the negligent parties and recover the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".