Bridgeport, WV Personal Injury Attorney | Desai Law

How Long Do You Have to File a Claim After a Car Accident in West Virginia?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in West Virginia that wasn’t your fault, one of the most important things to know is how long you have to take legal action. The clock starts ticking right after the crash, so it’s best to act fast to protect your rights. Contacting an experienced West Virginia car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident can help make sure you meet all the legal deadlines for seeking the compensation you deserve.

After any motor vehicle accident, there are two main types of claims you may need to file – an insurance claim and a personal injury lawsuit. While dealing with insurance companies and legal issues may be the last thing on your mind as you recover from your injuries, understanding the time limits involved is the key to getting the money you need to pay your medical bills, make up for lost income, and move forward with your life.

Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits in WV

Let’s start with the deadline for filing a car accident lawsuit. In West Virginia, this time limit is known as the statute of limitations. For most personal injury cases, including vehicle accident claims, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury or crash. This means if you were hurt in a car wreck that someone else caused, you have a two-year window to file a civil lawsuit against the liable party seeking monetary damages.

If your family member tragically passed away in a car crash due to another party’s negligence, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations for these cases is also two years in West Virginia, but the clock starts on the date of the person’s death, which may be later than the actual accident date.

While two years may seem like plenty of time, it’s advisable to get the ball rolling on your claim much sooner. Building a strong car accident case takes time. Your lawyer will need to gather evidence of the other party’s fault and the extent of your injuries and losses. The sooner you hire a West Virginia car accident lawyer, the sooner they can start putting together the strongest claim possible on your behalf. If you wait until the statute of limitations is almost up, you risk weakening your case.

It’s important to note that if you are suing a government entity in West Virginia, such as a city, county, or state agency, you typically have a much shorter timeframe to file a formal claim – generally 30 days, depending on the specifics of your case. Government claims also usually have additional procedural requirements. That’s why it’s wise to consult a knowledgeable West Virginia car accident attorney as soon as possible to ensure you meet all the necessary deadlines and follow the proper steps.

How Long to File a Car Accident Insurance Claim in WV

In most cases, you’ll also need to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company after a car crash in West Virginia. The statute of limitations for lawsuits doesn’t apply to insurance claims. Instead, you’ll need to notify the insurer of the accident immediately and then follow their specific procedures and timelines for submitting a claim.

Most insurance policies require policyholders to report accidents very promptly – often within a matter of days. If you wait too long, the insurer may try to deny your claim. Notifying them right away helps protect your rights. However, you don’t have to rush into giving a recorded statement or signing anything from the insurance company before speaking to a lawyer. Insurance adjusters are focused on minimizing payouts, not protecting your best interests.

At Desai Law, our West Virginia car accident team can communicate and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to pursue a fair settlement. Most claims are resolved this way, without the need for a lawsuit. However, if the insurer won’t agree to a reasonable settlement, having an experienced litigator on your side shows that you are prepared to take your case to court if needed to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Factors That Can Extend the WV Statute of Limitations

While the standard deadline to file a car accident lawsuit in West Virginia is two years from the day of the crash, there are a few scenarios that can extend this timeframe:

  • If the injured person is under 18, the two-year “clock” doesn’t start until their 18th birthday. However, their parent or guardian can sue on their behalf before then.
  • If the plaintiff is deemed mentally incompetent or legally insane at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations may be paused until their competency is restored.
  • If the defendant leaves West Virginia for an extended period after the car crash, the time they are out of state typically doesn’t count toward the two-year time limit.

Keep in mind that these are exceptions to the norm. In most car accident cases, you only have two years to sue, so it’s smart to start working with a lawyer right away to avoid missing this critical cutoff and losing your right to sue altogether.

Take Action After a WV Car Accident

Knowing your legal rights and options after a serious car wreck can feel overwhelming, especially when you are dealing with painful injuries, expensive medical treatment, and missed work. You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. The compassionate West Virginia car accident team at Desai Law is here to help.

We understand the immense physical, emotional, and financial toll a severe crash can take. Let us handle all the legal heavy lifting so you can focus on healing.

Our team will work to build you the strongest possible claim and ensure all filing deadlines are met. We have the knowledge, resources, and dedication to aggressively advocate for your rights and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident in West Virginia, contact Desai Law today for a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer. We’re here to fight for you every step of the way. Call (304) 974-1974 or reach out online now to get started.


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