After sustaining an injury in a car accident, many victims consider filing a lawsuit against the person responsible.
However, some victims don’t know how long they have to do so. At the Francis Firm, our attorneys know the statute of limitations for car accidents and how it may affect the timing of your claim.
Here’s an overview of the time limit for car accident cases set by the state of Texas.
The Purpose of the Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a motion against a defendant.
The goal of the statute of limitations is to prevent frivolous lawsuits years after an incident. It also helps protect the integrity of evidence, which may degrade over time.
For car accidents, the limit varies from state to state. Generally, if a plaintiff decides to bring a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, the court dismisses it.
What Is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations for Texas?
According to Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.003, a car accident injury lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the crash. This same deadline applies in car accidents with no injuries.
However, if the victim of the car accident dies from their injuries, the rule is slightly different. In this case, the family has two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim.
Are There Any Exceptions?
While most cases must follow the car accident statute of limitations for Texas, some qualify for an exception depending on the situation. These exceptions delay the start of the two year clock to a later date. This makes it possible to bring an action after the typical limit.
In Texas, the court may grant an exception if:
- The victim is mentally disabled or incapacitated—if the victim is in a coma or has any other issue that prevents them from making legal decisions, the clock starts once they aren’t incapacitated.
- The defendant leaves the state—in cases where the defendant leaves the state or is unavailable, the statute of limitations is tolled until they return.
- The victim is a minor—if the victim is a minor, the two-year statute of limitations starts on their 18th birthday. This means they have until their 20th birthday to file a lawsuit.
If any of these exceptions apply to your case, you might have extra time to bring an action. However, we highly recommend consulting an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. They’ll help determine your best course of action based on the facts of your case.
What If the Accident Involves a Government Agency?
When a car accident involves a government employee or entity, the typical statute of limitations doesn’t apply. Instead, government agencies have their own reporting requirements.
Under the Texas Tort Claims Act § 101.021, a government unit can be held liable for an injury in a car accident if:
- The employee that caused the injury did so while acting within the scope of their work, and
- The employee would have been liable if they were a private individual at the time of the accident.
However, victims have a much shorter amount of time to file a claim.
According to § 101.101, a victim must give the government agency a notice of their claim within six months after the accident. The notice should include the damages claimed, the time/location of the crash, and a description of the events.
Despite this rule, some local governments set stricter limitations than the state requires. For example, the City of Houston has a 90-day time limit to file a claim against their government for a car accident injury.
In Austin, the limit is even shorter, requiring notices to be sent within 45 days. This is why it’s essential to consult with a Texas car accident attorney immediately if your crash involves a government employee.
Injured in a Texas Car Accident? Call the Francis Firm Today
If you have questions about your claim or the car accident statute of limitations for Texas, give the Francis Firm a call. We advocate for accident victims from day one and know the tactics used by insurance companies to minimize a claim.
Whether you need help gathering evidence, finding witnesses, or negotiating a settlement, we’re here to fight for your best interests.