If you plan to file a lawsuit, it’s better to act sooner rather than later.


After an accident, a lawsuit is certainly something you should take time to consider, but if you wait too long, you may miss the opportunity to file a suit. So, how long after an accident can you sue?

The answer to that question varies by where you live. Most states have statutes of limitations on personal injury cases, which means that after a certain amount of time, you will no longer be eligible to sue for damages in court.

Even setting aside the statute of limitations, it is a good idea to file a lawsuit as soon as possible. Filing sooner means you will have better access to witnesses with fresher memories, and your own memories will be clearer. If you do sue, you will need to gather and file documentation, which can take some time.

This article provides general advice about filing a lawsuit after a motor vehicle accident. If you decide to file a suit, the best way to ensure you are fairly compensated is to seek the assistance of a lawyer. Use the tool below to get an estimate of how much your case may be worth and access to a free consultation.


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How Long After An Accident Can You Sue?

The amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit differs by state. The lengths range from one to six years depending on the statute of limitations, which is the time limit within which you can file a lawsuit or be charged with a crime.

The chart below provides details about the statute of limitations on auto-related personal injury claims for each state.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases (Auto)


1 year

Louisiana, Tennessee

2 years

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California , Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia

3 years

Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

4 years

Florida, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming

5 years


6 years

Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota




Is It Worth Suing After A Car Accident?

Suing after a car accident is not always necessary. In cases where there are no injuries, it is rarely worth it to sue, especially if fault is clearly established. Before filing a suit, you should first file an auto insurance claim.

If the other driver was at fault for the accident, their insurance company should provide a compensation offer after you file your claim. If there were no physical injuries, this compensation will likely be enough to cover your property damage expenses. However, if you feel that the insurance company’s offer is too low, you are free to reject the offer and go to court. If an insurance company refuses to pay a claim or gives you a lowball offer, it’s a good idea to contract the services of a lawyer. A lawyer can help you figure out how to get the most money for a car accident.

If you were injured in a car accident, your claim is likely to be worth more, and there is a better chance that the insurance company will not pay out as much as you could get in court, especially for serious physical injuries. Lawyers know how to calculate pain and suffering, so they can help make your best case.

Keep in mind that if you do sue, the success of your case will depend upon your ability to prove the other driver was at fault, as well as the extent of your injuries. Elements typically used in court to determine fault include:

  • Police reports
  • Unbiased witness testimony
  • Photographs
  • Video evidence

To prove injuries, be sure to keep receipts for all medical expenses and repair bills.



What To Do If Someone Sues You After An Accident

If someone sues you after a car accident, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible. If you have insurance coverage, your insurance carrier will be responsible for damages up to the maximum amount described by your policy.

Because your insurance company will want to avoid paying out a hefty claim, it may provide you with an attorney. The insurance company attorney may seem like an attractive option, especially if you cannot afford an attorney yourself. However, keep in mind that the lawyer provided by your insurance company will work in the best interests of your insurer, which are not necessarily your own best interests.

After a lawsuit is filed, there is a chance that a settlement will be reached before the case is taken to court. An accident lawyer working on your behalf should try to negotiate a fair settlement that does not exceed the liability limits of your insurance policy. If you are ordered to pay $30,000 in damages, but your insurance policy has a $25,000 limit, you will be on the hook for the additional $5,000.



Contacting An Attorney

If you plan to sue or if you’re being sued, be sure to contact a car accident attorney quickly after your accident. There is a lot of paperwork to file and work to be done before filing a lawsuit, so it’s important to start the process as soon as possible. Plus, how long after an accident you can sue will depend on where you live, so you’ll want to make sure your case is heard before your statute of limitations expires.

Many lawyers offer free consultations and may only request payment after a successful suit. Enter your zip code in the form below to start searching for lawyers, request a consultation, and see how much your case may be worth.



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