How long do I have to file a claim after a car accident?

Time Limits for Filing a Personal Injury ClaimThe time after a car accident can be painful and overwhelming. The emotional and physical consequences of the crash can make it difficult for victims to go about their lives as before. Unfortunately, not everyone will offer these victims the time and space they need to fully and expediently recover. It can be difficult to consider pursuing a legal case with so many other stresses during this time. However, while the law allows accident victims to pursue justice and compensation for their injuries, time limits do exist to file a legal claim.

Statutes of Limitations Exist to Ensure Timely Resolution

Statutes of limitations are rules that set a time frame for accident victims to pursue a legal case against the person or people responsible for their injuries. These rules are meant to encourage victims to mount a claim within a reasonable amount of time and to protect defendants from an excessive ongoing threat of litigation. Typically, once the amount of time stated in the statute has passed, a victim cannot take legal action against the responsible party. Different statutes of limitations exist for different types of cases, and every state has its own rules regarding these time frames.

Texas Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

In Texas, the time to file a personal injury claim varies depending on the situation. In general, from the date of the injury, a victim has:

  • 2 years – to file against a private individual or business.
  • 6 months – to file against a government employee or entity.

While this may seem like plenty of time to consider a claim before actually filing one, the time can pass much more quickly than expected. There is evidence to be obtained and documents to prepare and file, all of which does take time. Additionally, if a victim wishes to sue the government, if you were to be involved in an accident with a city bus, for example, the victim also has to notify the government of his intent to sue.

Determining the Deadline to File Can Sometimes Be Complicated

For most cases, the clock will start ticking on the statute of limitations on the day of the accident. There are some instances, however, in which the victim is able to pursue a legal claim against those responsible after the initial two years has passed. These situations are generally divided into two categories:

  • Discovery – The discovery rule allows for injuries that were not discovered until sometime after the accident. In some cases, injuries are not known until well after an incident has occurred. If the victim could not reasonably have suspected the injury within the two-year statute, they may be permitted to file a later claim.
  • Tolling – Tolling the statute essentially stops the clock from running. In some cases, the victim may not have been capable of pursuing a claim, such as when minors are involved in accidents, the victim experienced some type of mental incompetence, or the victim was bankrupt. In these cases, the limitation is tolled until that disability has ended.

An Experienced Accident Attorney Can Help Victims Address the Time Limits

The statutes of limitations can be based on a number of factors, and accident situations can quickly become complex. An experienced accident attorney can help victims understand how the time limits affect their case. Additionally, effective representation can address the court to adjust the limitations when appropriate. Every case is unique, however, and most cases must adhere to the two-year rule. While it can be difficult to take that first step, promptly addressing your legal rights can ensure that you and your family are able to obtain the justice and compensation you deserve. If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, don’t delay in calling the experienced accident attorneys at Kennedy Hodges, LLP. Our dedicated legal team can get started protecting your rights while you focus on what really matters. Even if you aren’t sure if have a case at all, take a moment to fill out our online contact form, and you’ll receive a prompt response from a member our team.