Knowing the deadlines that apply to your car accident case is essential for protecting your right to recover compensation and hold the at-fault driver accountable. Each state sets a deadline for beginning a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. If you miss this deadline, it could mean you cannot seek or recover compensation in your case.
If you attempt to file a lawsuit after the deadline has passed, the court will almost certainly dismiss the case against the responsible party, and you will be barred from recovering a court award from them. While this deadline does not technically apply to insurance claims, the insurer is unlikely to be motivated to offer a fair and just settlement knowing you cannot take their policyholder to court.
Understanding the Deadlines in a Louisiana Car Accident Case
These deadlines are also known as “prescription,” or the “statute of limitations.” They are state laws that limit the amount of time a potential plaintiff can let elapse before filing their lawsuit with the court. The prescriptive period could vary depending on:
- Where the accident occurred
- The type of accident
- Whether injury or death occurred
- The identity of the defendant
- The age of the victim
- Other factors
The statute applicable to car accidents in Louisiana is La. Civ. Code Art. 3492. This law states that:
“Delictual actions are subject to a liberative prescription of one year. The prescription period begins to run from the day injury or damage is sustained.”
The “date of injury” is generally the date the crash occurred. In other words, Louisiana state law sets a deadline of one year from the date of the collision to file a personal injury lawsuit. This applies in the vast majority of cases. As a brief aside, this same one-year deadline applies to claims for property damage resulting from an automobile accident.
Wrongful Death Deadlines in Louisiana
Louisiana law takes a very similar approach if someone died due to an automobile accident. The family or representative of the victim may file a wrongful death lawsuit within one year from the date of death, per La. Civ. Code Art. 2315.2. Note that the clock begins running on the date of death in these cases, not the crash date.
For example, imagine a crash that occurred on January 1, 2016. If the victim suffered severe injuries and passed away on February 1, 2016, it may be possible to file suit until February 1, 2017. However, if the victim survived their wounds, their deadline would be January 1, 2017.
How does an Uninsured Motorist Claim Change This?
One exception to this rule is when you are pursuing compensation based on an uninsured motorist (“UM”) policy. When you file this type of claim, La. Rev. Stat. § 9:5629 gives you two years to take action.
Recovery under this type of coverage is highly policy-specific and dependent on the facts of the case, though. As such, you may want to discuss this option with an attorney before you get started.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-537-8185
Deadlines in other Gulf South States
Every state has its own statutes of limitations, and they can vary widely. While Louisiana’s one-year limit for personal injury claims is very short, other states in the area have longer periods to act. These include:
- Two years in an Alabama accident claim, per Ala. Code § 6-2-38
- Three years to file a lawsuit in Arkansas under Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-105
- Three years to sue based on a Mississippi collision, per Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49
They may also have separate laws that address wrongful death actions, claims against government agencies, and claims on behalf of minors. This could alter the timeline in your case.
No matter the situation, you need to begin as soon as your injuries allow. If your injuries are stable, consider reaching out to an attorney who can help you with your claim.
How Can an Attorney Help Me Meet the Deadlines and Recover Compensation?
As a general approach, if you are in an automobile accident and suffer injuries, it is a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Most car accident law firms provide free consultations.
Your attorney will be able to advise you on how to pursue medical treatment, protect the viability of your case, and ensure that you meet the deadlines in your state. They can handle the claims process for you and sue on your behalf if necessary, and most work is based on contingency fees.
Discuss Your Legal Options with a Lawyer from Morris Bart, LLC Today
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident, the Morris Bart law firm will review your case with you today for free. We have someone available 24/7 to answer your call and set up a consultation with an attorney. We have offices across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.
Call (800) 537-8185 now to learn more.
to find a Morris Bart office near you.