If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, there is a specific amount of time you have to file a lawsuit, called a statute of limitations. How long that timeframe is depends on a couple of factors:
– The place where the crash happened, and
– The state and county where the at-fault driver(s) live.
Our law firm represents mostly people from Kentucky, though licensed in Indiana and represents injured people there as well. In Kentucky, the law says that if you were hurt in a car crash that happened in Kentucky, the default rule is that you have two years from the day the crash occurred to file your lawsuit.
However, if you’ve been injured in a car wreck in Kentucky, and your vehicle is insured in Kentucky, then you have basic reparations benefits insurance, also called PIP or no-fault insurance. If you have no-fault insurance, the clock on the statute of limitations period doesn’t start ticking until the last no-fault payment for medical expenses is made.
Let’s take an example using the following facts:
– You were in a car wreck on January 1.
– The wreck occurred in Kentucky
– The vehicle you were in had no-fault insurance
– You went to the doctor or chiropractor or other health professional and got treatment for your injuries from the wreck for four months
– No-fault paid for that treatment, and paid the last bill on May 30.
Under that scenario, the two year statute of limitations in Kentucky does not begin to tick down until that last no-fault payment was made – May 30. You would have two years from May 30 to file your lawsuit.
There are lots of variables that make this sort of thing more complicated, of course. If the at-fault driver wasn’t a Kentucky resident, you would either have to sue them in their home state, or file a lawsuit in Federal court in the state where the accident happened.
If you get in a car wreck in another state, your Kentucky insurance still covers you, but you may have to file your lawsuit either in the state where the accident happened or the state where the at-fault driver lives. Making matters even murkier is the fact that different states have different statutes of limitation, or rules about when the clock starts to tick down on when you can file a lawsuit for your injuries.
In Indiana, for example, no-fault insurance is not required, and the statute of limitations on most civil cases, including negligence, personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and intentional torts (such as assault and battery) is two years, although certain exceptions can apply.
It is important that, if you have been injured, you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine the statute of limitations for your specific case. If you’re worried about what to do after you’ve been hurt in a car wreck, give us a call at 502-633-6002 for a free consultation.