Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Texas

February 4, 2022 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Texas

If you’re injured in a car wreck, there are a multitude of considerations running through your head. You have to deal with law enforcement, you have to contact your insurance company, you need to get your vehicle repaired, and you need to care for any injuries you might have sustained. These are all important elements of recovery, but make sure you remember to act quickly to preserve and protect your rights to make a claim. If you wait too long, you might miss your chance.

The statute of limitations is the time period by which you must file a lawsuit. If the statute of limitations expires, your claim might be barred and forever lost. 

What is the Texas Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents?

The statute of limitations on car accidents in Texas is two years. If you’re in a car accident, this means you need to file your claim within that two-year window, to comply with the statute of limitations for personal injury in Texas. The statute of limitations

There are some special rules and exceptions to the law regarding the Texas car accident statute of limitations. In the case of a wrongful death — if the victim died as a result of the accident — the family or estate of the victim must file a claim within two years from the death of the victim. Essentially, the clock begins on the date of the victim’s death, as opposed to the date of the accident.

In some cases, the two-year statute of limitations begins to toll after a specific event: for example, if the victim is a minor, then the statute of limitations begins on their eighteenth birthday. If the victim is incapacitated, such as being in a coma or experiencing other medical issues that leave them unable to make legal decisions, then the clock begins to tick when the victim is no longer incapacitated. And, in a case where the defendant leaves the state or is unavailable, the court may grant an exception and toll the statute of limitations until they return.

It is also important to note that if your claim is against a government unit, you have much less time to file it. Under the Texas Tort Claims Act § 101.021, a government unit can be held liable for an injury in a car accident, as long as the government employee was acting within the scope of their duties when they caused the accident and would otherwise be liable as a private actor. However, you must give the governmental unit very specific notice of your claim within six months of the accident. Many cities set local rules that shorten this deadline even further.  In Austin, for instance, that limit is only 45 days.

Because there are many complicated potential issues with the statute of limitations in an accident, it is important to consult with an experienced Texas car accident attorney as soon as possible.

What happens if you miss the statute of limitations?

If you miss filing your claim by the date on which the statute of limitations expires, your claim will be barred. If you file a late claim, the wrongdoer will usually file a motion for summary judgment or to dismiss, asking the court to dismiss the claim for not complying with the statute of limitations. This means you potentially lose the right to recover from your injuries. To protect that right, it is essential that you file your personal injury case in a timely manner.

What types of injuries necessitate filing a claim after a car accident?

There are many different injuries that necessitate filing a claim. Some of the most common injuries in car accidents include the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries, head injuries, and concussions.
  • Back and spinal injuries, including, in some cases, paralysis.
  • Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries.
  • Cuts and lacerations, broken bones, and abrasions.
  • Wrongful death.

How does the statute of limitations affect insurance claims?

It is important to know that the two-year statute of limitations applies to legal actions filed in court, not claims filed with the insurance companies involved. However, that timeline can also affect your right to file and recover an insurance claim. There is no universal deadline for filing an insurance claim, but failure to file one by the same two-year deadline all but guarantees that the insurance company will not enter negotiations with you.

Insurance companies can, in some instances, make their own rules regarding when you need to file a claim under their policies. Moreover, those rules can vary depending on whether you have incurred any bodily injuries or damage to your personal property. If you are looking to file a claim against your own policy, check the language of your policy to make sure you are complying with any time requirements and filing your claim promptly.

How can the Francis Firm help?If you have questions about the statute of limitations on personal injury in Texas or would like to discuss your personal injury matter, call us. Michael Francis is a board-certified personal injury trial attorney. He and his firm are the experienced Texas counsel who can help you get the medical care you need and the maximum possible compensation for your injuries. The Francis Firm specializes in personal injury cases, especially those involving trucking and auto accidents, and has recovered millions of dollars for our clients. Contact The Francis Firm today to schedule your consultation.