How Long do you Have to File a Claim for a Car Accident, Personal Injury or Wrongful Death?
Most legal claims, whether they are civil claims or criminal prosecutions, have a time limit, which varies depending on the type of case. The time limit, known as the “statute of limitations,” establishes the period within which a claim may still be brought before it is considered too late regardless of the merits of the claim. For most types of negligence cases in Texas, including personal injury, wrongful death or product liability cases, the general rule is that statute of limitations expires two (2) years from the date of the accident, injury or incident. But like most general rules, there are plenty of critical exceptions that can modify this general rule both by shortening and lengthening the applicable statute of limitations and how to compute the statute of limitations correctly. Continue reading to learn about the time limit for filing a car accident claim in Texas, and reach out to a knowledgeable Beaumont car accident lawyer if you have been hurt by a negligent driver.
General Statute of Limitations for Car Crashes
In Texas, most car accident claims must be brought within two years of the date of the collision. The same statute of limitations applies to truck crashes, motorcycle crashes, or accidents that involve pedestrians or bike riders. The same limitations period also applies to property damage claims resulting from the collision.
The case does not need to be tried and completed within two years – simply put, a lawsuit must be filed by this two-year deadline and once timely filed and served is no longer an issue, even if the case it tried to a Final Judgment years later.
Some Exceptions or other Claims, including Wrongful Death
Depending on the circumstances of the claim and the identity of the Plaintiff or Defendant, the length of the statute of limitations may be shortened, lengthened or delayed. For instance, if someone dies in a crash, the statute of limitations for bringing a wrongful death claim is still two years, but the period starts on a different date. Instead of the date of the collision, the two-year period begins on the date of your loved one’s death.
If a minor child is injured in a car crash or other personal injury incident, the child has the right to certain personal injury damages on their own behalf. The statute of limitations for a child’s personal injury lawsuit is two years; however, the two year period is “tolled” or delayed until the child’s 18th birthday. Theoretically, the injured child’s claim could thus be brought any time until their twentieth birthday. Cases involving minor children are a bit more complicated, as some components of the minor’s claim – for instance, reimbursement or compensation for your child’s medical expenses – actually belongs to the parent and must be timely filed by at least one of the parent’s within two years from the date of the collision.
Personal injury claims against the government also follow different rules. If the driver who injured you was driving a city bus, for example, you must give proper notice to the government agency within the period specified, which is generally six months of the accident; however, these requirements can be altered too as some municipal governments set an even shorter time. Speak with a knowledgeable Texas car accident lawyer about your claims to ensure that you do not lose out on your chance for recovery based on a technicality.
That a service member is a party to the suit can also change the statute of limitations in Texas. There are a few types of personal injury claims where the “Discovery Rule” can change the date on which the statute of limitations begins to expire.
The general rule for breach of contract claims is four (4) years; however, the parties and facts can change this too.
Because the statute of limitations can be fact-intensive depending on the parties or the type of claim, the best advice is to ask a lawyer who routinely practices in this area lest your claim be considered legally barred, no matter how meritorious your claim is.
Get the Recovery You Deserve After a Texas Traffic Accident
If you’ve been hurt in a Texas car or truck crash, contact the seasoned and effective Beaumont personal injury lawyers at the Gilbert Adams Law Offices for a free consultation on your case at 409-835-3000.