A car crash can be a jarring, surreal experience. You may be unsure of what to do after it happens. Instead of contacting police and insurance, you may be too much in shock to report the accident to anyone. After some time, you realize that you need to file an insurance claim. But when is it too late?

In Massachusetts, you have a limited time to report an accident that causes severe damage. But if you don’t file a claim right away, you do have some time after the crash before reporting it is too late.

Reporting to the police in five days

When someone crashes into you, you should immediately contact the police to file a report. However, if you don’t have an officer fill out a report on the scene, you have five days to report any accident that caused death, injury or $1,000 of property damage. If you don’t, the police may take away your license.

While you have longer to file an insurance claim, insurance may deny you benefits if you don’t follow the reporting requirements of Massachusetts.

Statute of limitations gives you three years for a claim

Like with the police, you should contact your insurer as soon as possible after an accident. But if you don’t, you have three years in Massachusetts. The statute of limitations gives you three years to file an insurance claim or file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident.

However, your insurance company may choose to deny your benefits if you wait too long. They may try to say that the injuries you claim happened in the accident occurred later. But if you have definitive proof of your accident and the injuries you sustained, you have three years before your insurer can deny your claim without investigation.

You may still have time to report

Disorientation after an accident can cause you to forget about contacting the police and your insurer. But if you have injuries, you may need insurance benefits to help you pay your bills. If you don’t report your accident right away, you may still have time to file a claim.