Brian White | February 21, 2018 | Texas Laws
A “statute of limitations” is the legal term for a deadline for bringing a claim. Courts around the country enforce statutes of limitations to prevent claimants from waiting too long to file. Setting a maximum time to take legal action after an event occurs helps ensure a fair trial, while details of the event are still fresh in everyone’s mind and evidence still exists.
If you miss the deadline to file a claim after a car accident in Texas, you will almost certainly lose your right to seek compensation. Make sure you take action after a crash before the deadline in Texas.
Strict Deadline to File a Car Accident Personal Injury Claim
In Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident to file your personal injury claim. The two-year deadline applies to all injuries, whether they occurred in a car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accident. If you suffered injuries in something like a slip and fall, the two-year deadline also applies. In the event that you were in a car crash and only sustained property damage, you still have just two years to file a property damage claim.
In the majority of car accident cases, the clock for the statute of limitations starts ticking the day of the crash. There are rare exceptions to this rule, however. For example, if you did not discover your injuries until later, there is a chance the courts could mark the start of the clock on the date of discovery. This, however, is an exception to the rule in Texas, not the rule. The best way to stay within your deadline is to talk to an attorney well within the two-year mark after the date of your crash.
Should you lose a loved one in a car accident and wish to file a wrongful death claim, you have two years from the date of the individual’s death to file. Keep in mind that the date of death could differ from the date of the accident.
Unlike personal injury claims, in Texas the courts might “toll,” or pause, the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims for up to one year. Therefore, don’t assume you’ve lost the right to file if two years have passed since a loved one’s death. You might qualify for an exception.
Importance of Filing Within Texas’ Statutes of Limitations
The Texas civil courts take statutes of limitations very seriously. In the vast majority of cases, the courts will refuse to hear a claimant that waited past the two-year car accident filing limit. Even if the courts allow you to bring your claim, you can expect the defendant to bring the fact that you missed the deadline to the court’s attention.
The defense can file a motion to dismiss because you didn’t file in time, which the court will almost certainly grant. It’s very important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident to guarantee you don’t miss the filing deadline.
When to Call Your Insurance Company
Note that the civil courts’ statute of limitations is entirely separate from your deadline to file a car accident claim with your insurance company. The Texas car accident statute of limitations does not mean how long you have to file an insurance claim. Instead, it refers to how long you have to file a personal injury claim with the civil courts.
You’ll find a timeline for filing your claim with your insurer in your insurance policy or on the company’s website. Generally, you must file an insurance claim as soon as possible after a collision – the day of or within 24 hours, if possible. Waiting any longer to notify your insurance company could disqualify you from benefits or open yourself to allegations of insurance fraud.