How Long Do You Have To Report A Car Accident To Your Insurance Company?

After experiencing a car accident in Washington D.C., one of your immediate tasks should be notifying your insurance company. It’s crucial to understand how quickly you need to act and what exactly you need to do to give yourself the best chance at recovering the compensation you’re entitled to.

You have 60 Days to File a No-Fault Claim

In Washington D.C., drivers often file an insurance claim with their own insurance company after an accident because it is a no-fault state. Essentially, this means you can claim your damages through your own insurance policy irrespective of who caused the accident. You have up to 60 days post-accident to decide whether you’ll file a no-fault claim.

  • 31–2405. Lawsuit restriction and opportunity for arbitration under optional insurance.

(a) A victim shall notify the personal injury protection insurer within 60 days of an accident of the victim’s election to receive personal injury protection benefits.

Typically, drivers opt for no-fault claims if they’re responsible for causing an accident or incurred only minor damage that doesn’t involve significant injury expenses. By making this decision, your ability to pursue further action against the at-fault driver is forfeited, except in very limited circumstances.

A victim who elects to receive personal injury protection benefits may maintain a civil action based on liability of another person only if:

(1) The injury directly results in substantial permanent scarring or disfigurement, substantial and medically demonstrable permanent impairment which has significantly affected the ability of the victim to perform his or her professional activities or usual and customary daily activities, or a medically demonstrable impairment that prevents the victim from performing all or substantially all of the material acts and duties that constitute his or her usual and customary daily activities for more than 180 continuous days; or

(2) The medical and rehabilitation expenses of a victim or work loss of a victim exceeds the amount of personal injury protection benefits available.

In situations where your medical expenses exceed what you receive from your own insurance company, or when the injury results in substantial permanent scarring or disfigurement, you have the option of trying to obtain compensation through the at-fault party’s insurance policy instead. 

It’s always a good idea to speak with a Washington D.C. car accident lawyer first so you don’t inadvertently give up your right to seek compensation from the other party involved. 

What Happens If An Unlicensed Driver Hits My Car?

File Your Insurance Claim as Soon as Possible

Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to file your insurance claim as soon as possible for several reasons. 

Filing your insurance claim promptly can reduce the potential for disputes, as it links the damages directly to the accident making it harder for insurers or other involved parties to suggest that subsequent events could have been a contributing factor. 

Prompt filing also helps ensure that details of the incident are accurate and fresh in your memory and the memories of any witnesses. This is crucial for investigative reports and during negotiations. 

Additionally, quick filing starts the process sooner, potentially leading to earlier settlements. Insurers may also require prompt reporting of accidents as part of their policy conditions; failure to do so might complicate claim processing or even result in a denial. 

After a car accident, your timely action is key to a smooth claims process. If you’re uncertain about the next steps or need advice, contact Lightfoot Law, PLLC to schedule a free consultation.