Time May Be Running Out on Your Personal Injury Claim

If you’re injured in an accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation, which can include everything from your medical bills to your property damage. If you’re like many other accident victims, the bills are probably piling up.

Financial compensation can help you get back on your feet. However, did you know there’s a time limit to file a claim? The clock starts ticking on the accident date, so don’t ignore the statute of limitations. If you miss a filing deadline, you may be unable to recover your losses.

Here’s what every Texas driver should know about the statute of limitations for personal injury claims.

The Reason Statutes of Limitations Exist

Statutes of limitations exist for a few reasons other than just making you pay attention to the date. Personal injury claim deadlines are designed to help ensure efficiency and fairness in the court system by accomplishing the following:
- Keep your case moving in a timely and efficient manner: The statute of limitations helps ensure personal injury lawsuits don’t go on for years. The statute also allows accident victims time to assess their injuries and property damage. Since some injuries aren’t immediately apparent, the filing deadlines help ensure the victim can adequately assess their damages. For example, this may not be immediately obvious if long-term care is necessary.
- Protect evidence: Waiting years to file a personal injury claim can affect the integrity of your case. Evidence can be lost, tampered with, or destroyed. Memories fade over time, and accident witnesses can move away. To ensure the integrity of the evidence, it must be collected immediately after the accident. If you wait to file a claim, you may not be strong enough for an attorney to accept.

The statute of limitations also works to protect defendants from unnecessary harassment. Yes, defendants in personal injury cases also have legal rights. These rights include not having the threat of a potential lawsuit hanging over their heads for years.

What Are the Statute of Limitations in Texas

Every state has a statute of limitations in personal injury cases, which typically range anywhere from two to five years. However, don’t automatically presume you have several years to file a personal injury claim.

Texas only allows two years, and there are very few exceptions. You may be able to extend the statute of limitations if you’re a minor at the time of the accident. In this instance, the clock starts on your filing deadline on your 18th birthday. Now, you have two years to file a claim if your legal guardian hasn’t already started the legal process.

Here’s a look at the statute of limitations for the various types of injury cases in Texas:

- Personal Injury: 2 years
- Wrongful Death: 2 years
- Property Damage: 2 years
- Medical Malpractice: 2 years

You typically have two years to file a personal injury or property damage claim. However, it’s a little different when it comes to a product liability lawsuit. You have two years to file a lawsuit after being injured. The statute of limitations is also 15 years from the purchasing date.

So, if you purchased a product ten years ago and are injured due to a malfunction, you can file a personal injury claim within two years. However, you probably can't file a personal injury claim if you are injured and bought the product two decades ago.

Statute of Limitations Exemptions in Texas

Okay, we already mentioned minors can be exempt from the two-year statute of limitations, but Texas law also allows the filing deadlines to be extended in a few other instances:

Along with minors being exempt from the statute, it can also apply to anyone deemed to be legally of unsound mind at the time of the accident. The filing deadline clock doesn’t start until the court finds the individual to be mentally sound. Once this decision is reached, the two-year deadline goes into effect.

People move and this can affect personal injury claim filing deadlines. If the individual deemed responsible for the accident leaves the state, you may be able to extend the statute of limitations. However, don’t expect the deadline to restart. The clock only temporarily pauses until the defendant is located and served with a court summons. So, if the defendant disappears one year after the accident, once the individual is located you have 12 months to file a claim.

Surprisingly, not everyone injured in an accident is aware of their legal rights. Your deadline may be extended if you don’t know that you can file a personal injury claim. However, don’t decide to play dumb just to extend the statute of limitations since the court will investigate your claim of ignorance, and the ruling may not go in your favor.

Tips to Avoid Missing Filing Deadlines

A good rule to follow is to presume you only have two years to file a personal injury claim from the accident date, which means getting the ball rolling on your claim as soon as possible.

Thankfully, once you file a claim, you have some breathing room, which can give you and your attorney time to gather additional supporting evidence. To help ensure you don’t miss any filing deadlines, here are a few helpful tips.

Report the Accident Immediately

Don’t wait weeks or months to report an accident. In Texas, you have ten days to report a vehicle accident, and this is an important deadline you don’t want to miss.

Your accident report is a vital piece of evidence, and you may not be able to go forward without it. You should expect to wait about a week before your report is ready for pickup.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

Let your insurance company know you’ll be submitting an accident claim, which will help start the claims process—but don’t accept a settlement offer just yet. After settling your claim, you’re still calculating your damages, and you don’t want to be left with outstanding expenses.

Contact an Attorney if You’re Injured in an Accident

Collaborating with an experienced accident attorney significantly reduces the risk of missing crucial filing deadlines, which is vital for upholding your legal rights and claim viability.

Moreover, an attorney’s insights and strategic advice can be instrumental in navigating the nuances of your case, thereby enhancing the potential for a favorable and just compensation outcome.

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Posted - 01/19/2024