By: Pastrana & Garcia Injury Law, Published: October 08 2022

What Is the Texas Car Accident Statute of Limitations?

¿Qué es el estatuto de limitaciones de accidentes automovilísticos de Texas?

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    Were you in a car accident caused by someone else? Then, you may be eligible to file a claim against the other person’s auto insurance policy. This could allow you to obtain money for your medical costs, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

    But you have a limited period to file a personal injury claim in Texas. It is called the statute of limitations you need to obey to make a valid claim.

    The statute dictates when you must file your claim against the negligent driver. If you don’t file the claim within that time frame, you may be unable to recover damages.

    This statute also means you must take action quickly after the auto accident. Keep reading to learn more about the statute of limitations for car accidents in Texas.

    How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury in Texas?

    In Texas, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury or property damage claim. So, you have two years from the car accident date to file any legal action against the at-fault driver. If you don’t file a legal claim within those two years, you will lose your right to be compensated for your injuries.

    If a loved one died in a car accident, you or another close family member also has two years from the date of the death to file the claim. However, Texas law allows the “clock” on the statute of limitations to be ‘tolled’ for as long as one year.

    If a Texas government employee injures you, you must follow different rules. First, it’s usually required to file the claim within six months of the accident.

    What is a Statute of Limitations?

    A statute of limitations sets the maximum time that parties in a legal dispute have to file a claim or lawsuit. Statutes of limitations apply to both civil and criminal cases.

    Remember that the statute of limitations length varies by state and for the type of claim. For example, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Florida is four years, while it’s two years in Texas.

    Statutes of limitations have been used in legal matters for centuries. One of the biggest reasons every state has statute limitations is to protect defendants’ rights.

    Why is this Important?

    The statute of limitations encourages the plaintiff to pursue legal action relatively quickly. This rule also reduces the chances that critical evidence will be lost. Plus, witness memories tend to fade after a few months.

    For example, a Texas jury would probably be reluctant to trust eyewitnesses about a rear-end car crash that happened a decade ago. It’s highly likely by that time, their memories have faded. They may not remember anything at all.

    Further, someone who caused a crash so long ago wouldn’t expect to be sued. There’s also a high probability that evidence that could help the defense has gone missing or been destroyed. That’s why courts generally do not hear lawsuits involving events from many years ago.

    Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Claims in Texas

    You have two years from when you were hurt, or when you became aware of it, to file a personal injury claim in Texas. Texas state law also states that if the last day of the statute of limitations is on a weekend or holiday, the period to file the claim is extended to the next regular business day. However, the case could still be dismissed even if you file your claim within two years of the injury. Additionally, the case could be thrown out if the attorney fails to exercise due diligence when serving the defendant.

    That’s why selecting an experienced, skilled personal injury attorney to represent you is very important. A top-notch Texas attorney is well-versed in all relevant statutes and time limits. They’ll be sure to get your case filed correctly and on time.

    How is the Statute of Limitations Calculated?

    The statute of limitations “clock” begins when you knew or should have known that the car accident caused your injuries and damages. In most auto accidents, the victim knows when they’ve been physically harmed.

    It’s essential to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you think you’ve been injured in an accident. Then, you give your attorney as much time as possible to build a solid personal injury claim.

    Note that it can be challenging to determine the limitations period for some accident injuries. For example, you might not realize your sore back for weeks or months is related to an auto accident.

    It’s essential to be seen by a medical professional as soon as you can after the incident, so your injuries are documented. In addition, your attorney needs to be informed promptly of when the accident happened so they can file the claim within the necessary time.

    What Happens if the Statute of Limitations Expires?

    The court will probably dismiss the case if you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit after the two-year statute of limitations expires. However, there are exceptions.

    If the accident victim is under 18, the statute of limitations in Texas doesn’t run until they reach that age. The statute also may be extended past two years if the at-fault party leaves the state before you file a claim. The time the defendant was not in the state doesn’t count against the two-year statute of limitations.

    Contact a Texas Car Accident Attorney

    If you were hurt in a car accident, it’s vital to remember the two-year statute of limitations in Texas when filing a claim. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Pastra & Garcia quickly, so they have ample time to build a strong claim or lawsuit.