A lawyer working on a client's car accident case in his office on a late afternoon.

How long you have to file a claim in Connecticut after a car accident depends on what you are filing and against whom. That said, you generally only have a limit of two years to file a claim or a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

If you do not seek compensation within this period, you will, for the most part, no longer be able to take action.

You may, however, also have the right to file a claim against entities besides the driver. For instance, Connecticut’s Dram shop laws allow you to sue whoever provided a drunk driver with alcohol up to one year from the date they provided it.

These time limits are known as statutes of limitations. Connecticut also has a statute of repose; while there are a few exceptions that warrant stepping outside the recommended bounds of the statute of limitations, plaintiffs cannot bring claims once the statute of repose expires.

What Is the Connecticut Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations in a state is a legal limit that sets the maximum amount of time after an event – in personal injury law, typically an accident – for one to initiate legal action. Most states have separate statutes for criminal and civil law.

Statutes of limitations are set in order to protect certain interests of both plaintiffs and defendants.

  • Statutes of limitations protect defendants from old or stale claims where evidence may no longer be reliable, and the case itself may likely be fraudulent in nature.
  • Statutes of limitations encourage plaintiffs to act quickly, which in turn allows them to receive efficient and fair compensation for any losses they might have incurred.
  • Statutes of limitations help to prevent delays and unending litigation by forcing legal proceedings to stick to a standard timeline.

The state of Connecticut sets the same limit of two years for both injury and property damage. This contrasts with some other states, which place separate limits for each.

How Long Do You Have to Report an Accident to Insurance in Connecticut?

Ideally, you should report an accident to your insurance provider immediately. While the statute of limitations dictates how long you have to file your claim, you cannot do so for an accident your insurance provider does not know about.

Because of this, it is recommended that claimants contact their insurers once the opportunity presents itself after an accident, or, if this is not possible, inform the insurer of the accident simultaneously with filing a claim.

It’s worth mentioning that Connecticut as a state has a far more comprehensive set of rules for determining the statute of limitations relative to other states. There are multiple ways for an accident victim in the state to make a claim past the standard two-year limit.

These exceptions may, on occasion, increase the amount of time you have to inform your insurer. However, the recommended course of action remains the same: report your accident immediately.

Exceptions to the Connecticut Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is not a hard limit, and there are certain situations wherein it can be paused or tolled. Tolling of the statute of limitations is rare but does occur, often to preserve the spirit of fairness for the plaintiff.

The Injury Was Undiscovered

Not all injuries are evident immediately after a car crash; injuries may take several months or over a year before any signs appear. This is sometimes the case with complications resulting from whiplash or concussions.

You do not necessarily have two years to file a case after discovering the last injury. Depending on your case, you have a maximum of three years from the accident to make a claim or file a lawsuit.

The Defendant Is Absent From the State

Any civil action you can take against another party involved in a car accident is limited by state law. This means you cannot act if the defendant is not in the state.

Thankfully, the state of Connecticut does not include the time the defendant is out of state when computing the statute of limitations. This toll applies up to a maximum of seven years from the date of the car accident.

Action Is Taken Against the Wrong Party

One uncommon thing about Connecticut law is that it affords claimants extra time to pursue a claim after failing to name the correct party. Claimants are allowed to take new action against the right party within one year of terminating the first action.

This statute is especially important in providing victims ample opportunity to make a claim in cases where they might not have known the defendant’s identity. For instance, it can be helpful in the event of a hit-and-run accident, where the at-fault party is not easily identifiable.

 Accidental Failure of Suit

Additional time may be given to a plaintiff to pursue a new claim or lawsuit in the event that a previous action fails due to accidental injury or death, among other situations. Under this rule, plaintiffs are given an additional year after the conclusion of the first action.

Plaintiffs do not need a new cause; they can fight for compensation for the same cause as the failed action.

An Exception for Counterclaims

Counterclaims – for instance, saying that the plaintiff is, in fact, at fault when they were accusing you in the first place – may be added to any action at any time before written statements are considered complete.

This means that if a claim is filed against you a month before the statute of limitations expires, you may still file a counterclaim at any point until pleadings close.

Do You Need a Police Report to File an Insurance Claim?

Technically speaking, you do not need a police report to file your claim. In practice, however, there is rarely a good reason not to get a copy of the police report when filing a claim.

Police reports serve as the official accounts of accidents. This means that as long as any injury, death, or property damage occurs, the police report will serve to provide context and scale to the accident, which is important in determining damages and fault.

Police reports also contain information on the parties involved in an accident. This compilation of information makes it easy to reach out to necessary parties when making a claim, which generally speeds up the process.

Finally, insurers may be skeptical about hit-and-run claims because bad actors have been known to file them to get compensation for accidents where they are at fault. However, a police report is strong evidence to back your case when at-fault drivers attempt to flee.

Work With a Connecticut Car Accident Lawyer From Bert McDowell Injury Law Before Time Runs Out!

Bert McDowell Injury Law stands ready to help you make a claim in the aftermath of a car accident. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients and look to serve you with the same care and dedication that has brought us success.

At Bert McDowell Injury Law, our Connecticut car accident law firm serving Bridgeport, Hartford, Stratford, and throughout the state will fight for your rights while sticking to our, we fight for your rights while sticking to our Three Pillars: client communication, client attention, and client success. So Bring On Bert and contact us today at (203) 590-9169 for a free case evaluation.

We serve our clientele in English and Spanish and do not charge you a dime until we have won your case.