What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims?
When you are involved in an accident and are considering filing a lawsuit, it is very important to keep in mind that your case might have legal time limits. It is exceedingly difficult to file a lawsuit years after the accident, since evidence and human memory decay over time. Because of this, every state writes “statutes of limitation,” which put hard deadlines on your ability to file for personal injury.
If you are considering filing a lawsuit for personal injury after a car accident, it is vital that you talk to an attorney about your case as soon as you can. Because your case might be limited by strict deadlines, call an attorney today. The Dallas car accident attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm are available for free consultations on new cases.
Texas Lawsuit Time Limits
Texas has some of the most strict statutes of limitations in the country. Most of the statutes of limitations for injury lawsuits are found in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16. Any lawsuit for personal injury has a two-year time limit to file, under § 16.003(a). The time limit is the same when you sue for the death of a loved one.
To determine when the two-year clock starts running, you look at the date that the injury “accrues.” The definition of accrual, according to Texas law, is the date that the facts which would allow an injured person to sue come into existence. This is partly why Texas’ deadlines are so strict. Other states consider the accrual date to be when you were injured and knew it was someone else’s fault. However, Texas uses the date the injury occurred, even if you did not know about it. In a lawsuit based on the death of a loved one, the clock starts from their date of death, not the date of the accident.
In a car accident, this definition is not really a concern. In general, you know that you are injured in a car accident, and have a clear realization that it is someone else’s fault. That means that, under Texas’ statute of limitations for personal injury cases, you have two years from the date of the car accident to file for lawsuit.
Note that the statute of limitations only gives you a deadline to file your case. There is no legal requirement or expectation that you should finish your entire lawsuit within two years. Gathering evidence for trial, in a process called “discovery,” could take some time. Similarly, each side is given time to focus and clarify their legal claims and defenses, including the number and types of injury, the amount of compensation, and the theories of the case.
Because any case filed after the statute of limitations could be completely barred from court, it is vital to talk to an attorney about your case as soon as you can. Even if your case is not perfect, talk to an attorney before it is too late.
Should I File a Car Accident Lawsuit?
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, filing a lawsuit may be your best option to recover compensation. Insurance companies are often the party who ultimately pays for injuries in a serious car accident. Until you show them the seriousness of your case by filing for lawsuit, they might not be willing to pay the damages you should be entitled to.
Insurance companies generally offer to “settle” for car accident injuries by paying you compensation for medical bills and damage to your vehicle. Often, these payments are far lower than you need them to be, especially with early offers. If you wait too long to file your lawsuit, you may lose much of your bargaining power. Without the option to take the insurance company to court, you may have no legal options for compensation other than to accept whatever amount of money the insurance company offers.
The typical damages available in a lawsuit are much higher than those available in an out of court settlement with an insurance company. In either situation, you should be able to recover compensation for medical expenses and for some of the wages you missed if your injuries kept you out of work. However, many insurance settlements will not cover a very important area of damages: pain and suffering. The money you may be entitled to to compensate your physical pain and mental suffering are often the highest category of compensation in a car accident lawsuit. Typically, insurance companies will not pay these damages, and they are only available in a lawsuit.
Dallas Car Accident Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
If you were injured in a car accident, or you lost a loved one in a car crash, talk to an attorney today. The Dallas personal injury attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm help injured victims recover the compensation they need to move on with their lives. Call today for a free consultation on your case. Our number is (817) 476-1797.