How Long Do You Have to Report an Accident?
After an auto accident, it is the victim’s job to report the collision to the correct authorities in a timely manner. This often includes insurance companies, the police, and the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It may also include employers if the driver was on the job at the time of the collision. Timely reporting is key to a successful injury claim. Otherwise, parties involved may allege that the victim purposefully delayed reporting and use this as a reason to deny the claim. Knowing how long a victim has to report an accident can protect your rights, so speak with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer in West Virginia.
Do You Need to Report Your Wreck?
In West Virginia, victims must only notify the police of a car accident if it causes injuries and at least $1,000 in damages. If these two stipulations apply, the law states that victims must call an officer to the scene immediately, while still at the scene. All parties involved in the vehicle accident must stop, call the police, and remain on the scene until officers arrive. Otherwise, victims do not have to call 911 after an accident.
The police then have 24 hours to interview all participants and 10 days to file an official accident report. Call your local police department if the crash occurs within city limits. Otherwise, call the nearest office of the West Virginia State Police. Remember, you must make this call immediately. If your accident caused injuries or property damage of at least $500, you must file a report to the DMV, but you technically do not need to involve the police.
You have 10 days from the date of the accident to file a report with your local DMV. It is your responsibility to file Form AR-13 with the DMV for insurance purposes within this time. If you fail to report your accident, you may face license suspension or revocation. You do not have to report more minor accidents to the police, by law. However, involving the police even in minor accidents is often in the victim’s best interests. Having an official police report can create a record of what happened, as well as statements from eyewitnesses.
Reporting Your Accident to Insurance Companies
Your auto insurance company will stipulate when you need to file your report, often in the policy’s fine print. Check your policy if you are not sure how long you have to make the call. Generally, insurance companies demand that claimants report car accidents as soon as possible. This could mean the same day as the accident, or a few days later if the crash causes significant injuries.
West Virginia operates under a fault insurance system. This means you will file your report with the insurance company of the at-fault party. Call the number on your auto insurance card if you caused the accident. Otherwise, contact the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Do so as soon as possible to prevent the insurer from using delayed reporting as a reason to deny your claim. Stick to the facts when talking to an insurance agent about your accident, and do not admit fault. Enlist an attorney to negotiate with insurers on your behalf if you are nervous about saying the wrong thing.
How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?
If you would like to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party for your car accident, the West Virginia statute of limitations gives you two years from the date of injury. You must file within two years of the car accident or your discovery of injuries to qualify for compensation. If you are filing for wrongful death, you have two years from the date of death. The two-year deadline also applies to property-damage only claims. Contact a lawyer for more information about the specific time limits in your accident case.