Each state has its own deadline for filing car accident claims in civil court. In Texas, the statute of limitations for a car accident is generally two years from the date of the accident. However, there are some exceptions to that timeline. If you've suffered injuries in an accident, it is important to be aware of the statute of limitations because if you miss you miss the deadline, you will be unable to pursue compensation for your injuries through the court. Reach out a seasoned car accident lawyer in Dallas for for legal help.
Because personal injury claims are time-sensitive, if you’ve been in a car accident, it’s recommended that you consult a lawyer to discuss the viability of your claim and whether your accident falls within the timeframe.
In this blog post, we’ll examine Texas’ two-year statute of limitations for car accident claims, why the state has a filing deadline, and what to do to improve your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.
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What is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a legal concept that sets a time limit on when you can file a lawsuit or claim after a specific event has occurred. When it comes to car accidents, the statute of limitations dictates the time frame within which you must initiate legal action against the at-fault party or their insurance company to seek compensation for your injuries, property damage, and other losses.
Some damages you may recover compensation for in a car accident claim include:
- Medical expenses: This includes all costs associated with treating your injuries, such as ambulance rides, hospital stays, surgery, medication, doctor's appointments, and physical therapy. Past, present, and future medical expenses can be included.
- Lost earnings: If your injuries prevented you from working, you may be compensated for the wages you lost during your recovery period. This can also include lost sick leave or vacation time.
- Loss of future earning capacity: If your injuries permanently affect your ability to work or earn a living, you may be entitled to compensation for future lost wages.
- Property damage: This covers the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle or any other personal property destroyed or damaged in the accident.
- Out-of-pocket expenses: You may be reimbursed for any additional expenses incurred due to the accident, such as transportation costs to medical appointments, childcare costs if you were unable to care for your children due to your injuries, or home modifications needed to accommodate your disability.
- Pain and suffering: This compensates you for the physical and emotional pain and suffering you endured as a result of your injuries. It can also include mental anguish, anxiety, and depression.
The statute of limitations serves several important purposes within the legal system:
- Preservation of Evidence: Over time, evidence can deteriorate or become unavailable, making it challenging to establish liability or prove the extent of damages. By imposing a time limit, the statute of limitations encourages the timely gathering and presentation of evidence.
- Legal Certainty: Setting a fixed deadline provides clarity and predictability in legal proceedings, ensuring that cases do not linger indefinitely. This benefits both plaintiffs and defendants by promoting efficient resolution of disputes.
- Protecting Defendants: Defendants have a right to be free from the threat of litigation indefinitely. The statute of limitations helps protect their interests by limiting the time in which a plaintiff can file a claim.
Exceptions to the Two-Year Statute of Limitations
While the two-year statute of limitations is the general rule for car accident claims in Texas, there are some exceptions and nuances that may affect the timeline. Here are a few scenarios in which the statute of limitations may differ:
If a minor (under the age of 18) is involved in a car accident, the statute of limitations may be tolled (paused) until they reach the age of majority (18 years old). In such cases, the two-year period may not begin until the minor turns 18.
Mental or Physical Incapacity
If a person is deemed mentally or physically incapacitated at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations may be tolled until they regain mental or physical capacity.
Defendant's Absence from Texas
If the at-fault party or defendant is absent from the state of Texas after the accident, the statute of limitations may be paused until their return to the state.
When a government entity is involved in an accident, such as a city-owned vehicle, different rules and shorter deadlines may apply. Claims against government entities often require specific notice within a shorter time frame. For example, you must file claims against the state of Texas within six months of the accident instead of two years.
Wrongful Death Claims
If a car accident results in a wrongful death, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is generally two years from the time of the accident victim’s death.
The Importance of Timely Action after a Car Accident
Failing to file a car accident claim within the statute of limitations can have significant consequences. If you miss the deadline, the court is likely to dismiss your case, and you will lose the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. This is why it's crucial to take timely action if you've been involved in a car accident.
Here are some steps to consider to ensure you meet the statute of limitations:
- Seek Medical Attention: After a car accident, prioritize your health and well-being. Seek immediate medical attention for any injuries, as your health should always be the top concern.
- Document the Accident: Gather evidence at the scene, if possible, by taking photographs, exchanging information with other parties involved, and getting witness statements.
- Contact the Police: Report the accident to the local police department and ensure you file a police report. This report can serve as valuable evidence in your claim.
- Preserve Evidence: Keep all records, documents, and correspondence related to the accident, such as medical bills, repair estimates, and communication with insurance companies.
- Consult an Attorney: Reach out to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. They can guide you through the process, help you understand your rights, and ensure you meet all deadlines.
- Initiate the Claim Process: Start the claims process with the at-fault party's insurance company promptly. Be cautious when communicating with insurance adjusters and consider involving your attorney in these discussions.
- Keep Track of Time: Be mindful of the two-year statute of limitations and maintain open communication with your attorney to ensure your claim progresses within the prescribed time frame.
Don’t Let Time Run Out: Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
The aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming. Medical bills pile up, your car sits damaged in the driveway, and navigating the legalities of seeking compensation can feel like deciphering a foreign language.
At the Francis Firm, we understand the financial and emotional toll a car accident can take on accident victims and their families. We're committed to fighting for your rights and helping you get the compensation you deserve. If you've been injured in a car accident in Texas, don't delay.
Contact the personal injury attorneys at Francis Firm today for a free consultation. We'll guide you through the legal process, ensuring you understand your rights and options, and help you make informed decisions about your future.
Remember, the clock is ticking. Don't wait until it's too late. We're here to help you every step of the way.