How long you have to place a claim for damages sustained in an accident can vary depending upon state laws and insurance company guidelines. Most insurance companies at least require you to report an accident and place a claim promptly within a reasonable amount of time.
If you do not place claim or in your case it sounds as if you are putting in a claim with the other party's liability insurance, within a short period of time after the incident you will likely need to explain the delay in reporting the accident.
To find out if your state has specific insurance laws regarding how long you have to place a report or place a claim with an auto insurance company, check with your state's insurance regulatory body.
You may also want to find out if your state has a time limit on how long you have to settle or conclude your claim. For example in Illinois you must either accept a final settlement offer, or file a lawsuit, within the time periods required by the appropriate statutes of limitations:
For bodily injury claims in IL you must settle the claim:
Within 2 years from the date of the accident; or
Within 2 years from the date of your 18th birthday if you were under age 18 when the accident occurred.
For property damage claims:
- Within 5 years from the date of the accident, regardless of your age at the time the accident occurred.
For bodily injury or property damage caused by an accident with a government entity:
- Within the appropriate time period imposed by the statute of limitation for that particular entity of government.
If you fail to accept a final settlement offer or file a suit before the statute of limitations ends, you may jeopardize your right to receive any settlement at all. This is likely true in most states, not just Illinois.