Following a car accident in Cleveland or anywhere else in Ohio, an injured victim has two years from the date of the crash to file insurance claims. A family member or the estate executor for a person who dies in a car crash also has two years to file a wrongful death claim.

The statute of limitations on car accident claims exists to ensure that physical evidence will be retained, reports will be retrievable, and memories will remain reliable. At the same time, giving a car crash victim just 24 months to seek compensation and monetary damages can create challenges.

Even if we were not Cleveland-based personal injury attorneys who devote a considerable portion of our practice to advising and representing car accident victims, we would recommend speaking with a lawyer as soon as is practical following a serious collision. Just knowing your legal options and the relevant deadlines will help you decide how to proceed with recovering financially from the wreck.

Getting into the Details

Here is what state law says specifically about the time limit for filing a personal injury claim after a car accident: “An action for bodily injury or injuring personal property shall be brought within two years after the cause of action accrues.”

What section 2305.10 of the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) does not make clear—but which all insurance companies, courts, and lawyers understand—is that the clock on the statute of limitation starts ticking on the day of a car crash and expires exactly 730 days later. Also, taking “an action” only means notifying an auto insurance company that you intend to file a claim. Notice of intent to file a claim can be made long before an official request for compensation and damages is submitted.

Another state statute, O.R.C. 2315,18, clarifies what an injured car accident victim can request. A person who suffers injuries in a crash caused by another driver can file claims for all the following:

  • Wages, salaries, or other compensation the victim loses while recovering from the injury or after becoming permanently disabled;
  • All past, ongoing, and future expenditures for medical care, rehabilitation services, health care products, or accommodations, including emergency care, hospitalization, prescription medications, and long-term care;
  • Other expenditures incurred as a result of the injury except attorney’s fees; and
  • Noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering, disfigurement (e.g., scarring, amputation), mental anguish, and loss of society, consortium, companionship, care, assistance, or attention.

If the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an injured victim may also be able to claim punitive damages, which are assessed by a civil trial jury as a noncriminal fine for reckless behavior.

Not Just Car Accidents

The two-year time limit for filing a personal injury claim applies to all types traffic accidents. Quick legal action is required following any collision with a commercial truck, bus, or motorcycle. The statute of limitations must be met by pedestrians, as well as vehicle passengers.

On a final note, getting injured while driving a company vehicle or traveling for work may give the crash victim grounds for claiming worker’s compensation benefits and for filing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver. A one-year statute of limitations will apply to the workers’ comp claim.

You can schedule a free consultation with a car accident victim’s attorney by calling the Cleveland, Ohio, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman at (800) 678-3318. We also make appointments online.