Motor vehicle accidents happen each and every day. Many drivers and passengers are injured in these crashes, but not all of them get the help they need to pursue a personal injury claim. We want to change that. We’re here to educate you on your time-sensitive legal options, should you ever end up hurt in a car accident.
So just how long after a car accident can you claim injury? The answer to this question can be found in your state’s statute of limitations.
A statute of limitations is a time limit placed upon an injured person as they decide whether or not to take legal action. It is also known as a “prescriptive period.” When the time limit runs out, a claim may no longer be filed, or it may be dismissed.
Statutes of limitations vary from state to state. They also vary depending on what type of case you are dealing with. Particularly violent crimes, for example, have no statute of limitations.
Texas Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
The statute of limitations in Texas for all personal injury claims is two (2) years from the date of the incident. This is how long you have to file a claim after a car accident in Texas. This holds true for auto accident injury claims filed by motorists, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
The Texas statute of limitations for property damage claims — such as damage to your vehicle or other belongings in the accident — is also two years.
Additionally, if a faulty auto part contributed to your car accident, you may be able to recover damages from the parts manufacturer. The Texas statute of limitations for defective product liability cases is also two years.
Wrongful Death Car Accident Claims
If you’ve lost a loved one to a fatal car accident, there is a two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Texas. If they passed away later as a result of their accident injuries and subsequent complications, the two year time limit begins on the date of their death, not on the date of the accident. Unlike personal injury claims, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims can be extended up to one year in certain complex cases.
Receiving Compensation from the Government
Did you know a government entity may be responsible for your car accident? If you were driving on government-owned property and encountered missing signage, missing guardrails, broken traffic lights, potholes, or other road maintenance issues, you may be able to file a claim against the government.
The Texas Tort Claims Act allows you to sue the government for accidents involving motor vehicles operated by government employees or for accidents occurring on government-owned property deemed hazardous.
Beware: if you were injured by a government entity, the statute of limitations changes. When seeking damages from the Texas government, you are required to file a “notice of claim” within six months from the day of the accident. Some municipal governments have even shorter time limits for providing notice. For example, in Houston, there is a 90 day limit.
Exceptions to Statutes of Limitations
While courts rarely permit extensions to deadlines specified by a statute of limitations, there are exceptions. Some of these exceptions include:
- if a minor is involved in the accident
- if the defendant absconded
- if a disabled or catastrophically-injured victim needs help filing a claim or was incapacitated for a period
- if military deployment prevented a victim from participating in their case
A car accident lawyer can determine if any exceptions apply to your case.
Statutes of limitations exist to encourage the diligent and timely prosecution of a crime. Law enforcement believes anyone with a valid claim will want to pursue it promptly. We understand this is not always the case, but we still strongly encourage you to take swift legal action if you’ve been in a car accident. Let us explain why.
Why You Should File Your Car Accident Claim NOW
Car accidents are undoubtedly terrifying experiences. The shock you initially feel may be followed by days or weeks of mental fog.
But time is running out to build your case. The insurance company won’t part with its money easily, and it will demand substantial proof before paying you what you deserve.
While two years might seem like a long time, it takes a while for a good personal injury lawyer to investigate, collect evidence, and build a strong case that gets you the money you need! Reaching out to them one week before your statute of limitations expires isn’t doing either of you any favors. The sooner you file, the better your results will be.
Filing your claim now will help you achieve the following things:
Recover from your car accident injuries.
Whether or not you were gravely injured, you’re bound to be feeling all the stress, pressure, and chaos a car accident brings. The choices you’re faced with may seem expensive or overwhelming, and as the days go by, you may just want to put the whole thing behind you. However, this is not a wise choice. Some injuries can take weeks to show up. We often receive requests from clients who had an accident over a year ago, but are just now realizing the toll it has taken on their lives.
Trust us: trying to “tough it out” or “wait and see” if you bounce back from your injuries is never a good idea.
You deserve proper medical care ASAP. Even if you were only in a little “fender bender,” you may not realize you have soft tissue injuries that will become more and more painful over time and require physical therapy.
Avoid gaps in medical treatment.
This one is critical, because gaps in treatment are often used to discredit injured victims and drastically reduce their settlement offers. Insurance companies will argue that you weren’t really hurt if you didn’t seek prompt, thorough medical treatment and follow up with all recommendations. We know things can get in the way of your medical care – work, family, scheduling conflicts, money woes, and more. But the insurance company won’t be so understanding.
As days go by, important proof can be lost. Evidence at the scene of the crash can be contaminated or swept up. Witnesses are harder to track down, and their testimony becomes less reliable with the passage of time. Additionally, it becomes more difficult for your lawyer to access medical records and other important documents to support your case.
Pay your car accident bills.
Car accident bills can pile up in the blink of an eye. If your vehicle was totaled or if you needed a surgery, the expenses are only just beginning. You’ll need a rental vehicle as well as help with childcare or chores, you’ll miss time from work, and you’ll be in pain. A car accident lawyer will take all of these factors into account and fight for the true value of your claim, securing enough money for you to pay off all expenses related to your car accident.
How Much is My Car Accident Claim Worth?
Every car accident is different, so there is no average amount that can be placed on car accident claims settlements. Each one will be worth a different amount, even if the impacts and injuries seem identical!
If you win, the damages you are awarded are intended to reimburse you for the losses you’ve suffered. These categories of loss will include:
- Medical bills, ambulance rides, physical therapy, and other health expenses
- Lost wages or loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage, including damage to your vehicle
By assessing all of these losses and how they have impacted your life, a car accident lawyer can help you discover the true value of your case. Don’t miss your opportunity!
Do Car Accident Claims Go to Court?
Not all car accident claims go to trial. In fact, the good news is that most car accident claims settle out of court. A skilled car accident attorney knows how to negotiate with insurance companies to get you the settlement offer you deserve.
However, in the event of particular unfair and stubborn insurance agents, our team of car accident attorneys has extensive litigation experience and is fully prepared to stand up for you in the courtroom.
We see the “big picture,” and we consider the full extent of your pain and suffering as a car accident victim. Don’t back down or settle for anything less than what you deserve.
Note that the statute of limitations does not include the length of a potential trial; rather, it only applies to the time you have to take the first step toward legal action and get the ball rolling.
Don’t Wait Another Moment to File Your Claim
Figuring out how to file a car accident claim can be a headache. You shouldn’t have to deal with the tedious details, phone tag, and long hold times from insurance companies when you’re already under so much stress.
Over the years, we’ve seen innocent victims miss out on the compensation they deserve, simply because they were uninformed or hesitant to reach out to us sooner.
Now is the time to take action, not chances!
With over 20 years of experience, we know how to deal with car accident claims of all kinds. Our car accident lawyers act fast, collecting all the evidence you need to build a strong case and receive the compensation you deserve.
To summarize what we’ve learned:
- The Texas statute of limitations for car accidents is two years from the date of the accident.
- This time limit applies to personal injury claims, property damage claims, defective auto parts, and wrongful death suits.
- If you are filing a claim against a government entity who caused your accident, special time limits may vary from city to city. In Houston, you only have 90 days to file a notice of claim against the government.
- Filing a claim as soon as possible after an accident increases your chances of successful settlement.
One missed deadline can alter your future.
If you don’t act now, you may lose your right to compensation and be stuck coping with your injuries and losses alone.
Contact a lawyer for a free consultation as soon as possible after your accident. The sooner they start building your case, the greater advantage you will have. We’re here for you 24/7, with experts ready to provide free, confidential consultations!
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.