How Long Do You Have to File a Claim for a Truck Accident?By Stewart J. Guss on April 22nd, 2020
When you’ve been in a truck accident, your world is shattered. You’re anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed for days, weeks, or even months as you try to put the pieces back together. Medical treatment is probably the top priority in your mind, and paying bills and getting back to living your life are runners-up.
You want to move on. You might think you don’t want to deal with the “hassle” of filing an insurance claim… but later, you may realize it’s your only chance to financially recover.
Truck accidents result in catastrophic injuries that can change the life not only of the person injured, but their family members and friends, too. Victims of truck accidents caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless actions deserve compensation, resources, and all the help they need to make the most complete recovery possible.
But your time is running out. Laws limit the amount of time truck accident victims have to take legal action for their injuries. These time limits vary by state and by the circumstances of the accident, but if you do not abide by these time limits, you could lose your right to get paid at all.
Fast actions – like getting a medical exam and calling a truck accident lawyer – are required to ensure you preserve evidence from your accident and get back on your feet.
Let’s take a look at the factors affecting how long you might have to file a claim for a truck accident. For more detailed information about your rights after suffering injuries in a truck crash, contact an experienced lawyer in your state today.
Time Limits Vary by State
A single set of federal regulations governs the interstate trucking industry nationwide.
However, there is no blanket rule for how much time truck accident victims have to file a lawsuit after a trucking accident.
Instead, each individual state has a different statute of limitations, which means that your rights as a truck accident victim can depend on where your accident happened.
- In Texas, the statute of limitations to file a truck accident injury claim is two years after the crash takes place in most cases. There are some exceptions to that rule, though. For example, when the injured person is a minor or is legally disabled, Texas law sometimes allows for extra time to file a claim.
- In California, the statute of limitations in most truck accident injury cases is also two years from the time of the injury; but, in some cases, if the injury was not discovered right away, then you might have one year from you discovered it, or from when you should have discovered it, to file a claim.
- In Louisiana, the statute of limitations for a truck accident injury claim is one year from the date of injury, but exceptions may apply for injured minors as well as for injuries caused by an accident caused by a defective product, like a faulty truck part.
Confused yet? You don’t have to handle it alone.
A seasoned truck accident injury lawyer knows statute of limitations laws inside and out. It takes true attention to detail and knowledge of the laws of the state where the accident happened – and of where the parties in a lawsuit reside – to make sure you don’t run out of time to file your truck accident claim.
No matter where you live, you should only trust your truck accident injury claim with a skilled personal injury lawyer. Don’t wait to call one. In matters like these, time is money.
Time Limits Can Depend on Whom You Sue
A state’s time limits for bringing a lawsuit after a truck accident can also depend on who you want to sue.
One of the most significant time limitations happens when a state or local government entity has legal liability for a truck accident that hurt you. Yes, it is possible to “sue the government” for causing a truck accident, but they don’t make it easy: you’ll need to meet some very short time limits.
Here are a few examples:
- In California, claims against governmental agencies must be filed within six months of the injury in most cases, though some specific circumstances allow for claims to be filed within a year.
- In Texas, the time to file a claim against the government is limited to six months after the accident. However, you need to be careful with trusting that time limit, because some Texas cities require, in addition, that you file a notice of claim with the city within a much shorter period of time. Houston’s city charter, for instance, requires someone injured by the actions of a municipal employee (say, one driving a city-owned truck) to deliver a notice of claim within 90 days of the injury.
- In Louisiana, however, the statute of limitations against a government entity is the same as against a private person or entity – one year.
These rules are enough to make your head spin, and there’s many more, depending on the state you live in. That’s why, no matter where you are, the best way to deal with your claim is to connect with an experienced truck accident injury attorney as soon as possible after your crash.
What Happens if You Miss the Deadline?
You guessed it: bad things. In virtually all truck accident cases, there is no such thing as a “make up period” for a missed deadline. In most states, allowing the statute of limitations to expire means losing the right to bring a lawsuit forever. That means no compensation.
Don’t Delay – Seek Legal Help Today
Commercial trucks can weigh up to 30 times more than the average passenger car. In a collision, this means they do massive damage and take a staggering physical, emotional, and financial toll. Victims of collisions—usually the occupants of smaller vehicles—frequently sustain catastrophic or fatal injuries. Medical bills pile up. Victims and their families miss work; some can never return. Personal relationships suffer. Life feels overwhelming.
These people need help, and we’ve made it our professional mission to be there for them.
If you suffered harm in an accident involving a commercial truck, speak with an experienced truck accident injury attorney as soon as possible. Time is running out to maximize your compensation.
Experienced lawyers act fast. They can help truck accident victims build a strong case by:
- Obtaining and reviewing the truck driver’s employment records. This could reveal risk factors such as hours of service violations, a previous history of careless or reckless driving behavior, a lack of adequate training, or a medical condition that should’ve kept the driver from getting behind the wheel of a heavy truck.
- Analyzing data from the vehicle’s onboard recorders, which could reveal malfunctions in the truck’s braking or engine systems, or provide evidence that illustrates the trucker’s driving behavior, such as speeding or failing to react to road hazards.
- Digging into the truck driver’s documentation of any pre-trip inspections of the truck, as well as routine maintenance logs for work performed on the truck. This information could indicate that the driver failed to perform an inspection as required or that someone failed to perform necessary maintenance on the truck.
- Obtaining and inspecting parts of the truck that crashed to determine whether any parts malfunctioned and, if so, whether that malfunction resulted from a defect. A forensics expert can help with this process.
- Cataloging all of the parties—individuals and business entities alike—who had any involvement in the series of events leading up to and including the crash, and then assessing which of those made bad decisions or took dangerous actions that made the crash likely to occur.
- Investigating the financial resources available to pay damage to injured truck accident victims, including insurance policies and personal or business assets.
- Consulting with doctors and other experts about the nature and extent of injuries a truck accident victim suffered. This helps them figure out the amount of money the victim should receive as compensation for their pain and suffering.
That’s a lot of work that a truck accident lawyer can take off your plate!
Of course, every truck crash has its own unique facts, so what an attorney does for each individual client can differ greatly. However, all truck accidents often require significant effort. State and local laws limit the amount of time a crash victim has to take legal action. This can put a ton of pressure on lawyers to do that work quickly. So, do not wait to get legal help after a truck accident leaves you or a loved one injured. You have no time to waste.
Speed Things Up in Your Accident Claim
The lawyer for a truck accident victim does the bulk of the hard work in preparing a case. Victims have enough to worry about as it is. An attorney’s job is to make their lives easier, not more difficult.
When you and your lawyer are facing tight deadlines for taking legal action to get compensation, you’re not helpless. Victims of truck accidents can make a difference in the fight to protect their legal rights. Here are a few suggestions for how you can help your lawyer after the accident:
Gather as much visual evidence as possible at the scene of the accident.
Look, no one expects you to go all CSI or anything. But, if you can do so safely while still at the scene of a truck accident, snap as many pictures as you can of the vehicles, the road, and the surroundings. Get shots of any commercial markings on the truck that crashed, and of all license plates
Do not get in the way of any first responder and do not put yourself in danger. Do not risk making your injuries worse. Photos are useful, but your safety remains top priority.
Photo evidence helps your lawyer evaluate the accident and determine who may have a legal liability to you for damages.
Get medical care, and follow your doctor’s advice.
We can’t stress this point enough. Even more than gathering evidence, your number-one priority after a truck accident is making sure you receive medical care.
Do not assume that just because you feel “okay” after an accident that you are, in fact, “okay.” Spikes of adrenaline in the wake of an accident can mask your pain. Lots of terrible truck accident injuries do not necessarily show symptoms right away. In fact, soft tissue injuries can take days or week to show up, but can leave you with lifelong pain issues.
Let an EMT at the scene check you out and take a ride in an ambulance to the hospital if it is recommended. In any case, schedule a full check-up with your regular doctor as soon as possible after your truck accident.
You cannot diagnose your own injuries. Leave that life-saving task to a doctor, and then follow their instructions. Do not miss a follow up appointment. Do not skip a therapy session. Do not stop taking your medicine until your doctor says it’s okay.
Following through with timely medical care does two things for you after a truck accident. First, it protects your health and wellbeing, which is most important. Second, it creates medical records that help to prove the connection between the truck crash and your injuries. That makes your lawyer’s job much easier and can help speed your case along.
Please keep all records, bills, and receipts!
Save every scrap of paper that relates to your truck accident and injuries. Every little bit could help your case: Medical bills. Insurance documents that come in the mail. Summaries of your medical treatment. Receipts for paid parking at the hospital. Invoices from house cleaners or child care workers you needed to hire because of your injury. Old pay stubs from work to show how much you would have earned if you had not gotten hurt.
No matter how smaller or seemingly insignificant, save that paper. Nothing helps to prove a case quite like a nice, clear, dated document. Your lawyer can help keep this paperwork in order. If you lost some or all of them, we can help obtain copies—that will just take a little more time.
Seek Legal Help Today
If a truck accident left you or a loved one badly injured, you may have the legal right to compensation. Act quickly to beat the statute of limitations. Don’t delay – get help today. Our expert legal team is available to provide free consultations 24/7.