Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Texas
You are driving on a busy street in Houston when out of nowhere, a drunk driver T-bones your vehicle. Your car is totaled and you are seriously injured in the collision. The accident is clearly the fault of the intoxicated driver, which means you likely have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against him or her and the other driver’s auto insurance company. How much time do you have to file this claim? What is the statute of limitations?
These are important questions because the time frame is limited. In Texas, a civil tort claim must be filed in court within two years from the date of the accident. That means that if your accident occurred on January 1, 2017, you generally have until January 1, 2019 to file a lawsuit.
What Exactly is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a temporal restriction set forth by the Texas legislature for filing certain types of lawsuits. Every state has its own statute of limitations and the time periods differ based on the type of case filed. In the context of a personal injury lawsuit, which includes injuries sustained in a car accident, the actual suit must be filed within a period of two years from the date of the accident.
Ramifications of Missing the Statute of Limitations
If you miss the deadline for bringing a lawsuit, there is a good chance that your lawsuit will get thrown out of court and the defendant will get to evade responsibility for their negligent actions. Most Texas courts are not lenient when it comes to complying with the statute of limitations and are open to jettisoning a case that is untimely filed.
In a Case of Wrongful Death
When a car accident results in a fatality, you may be inclined to think that the limitations period would be longer to allow family and friends to mourn the death of their loved one. That is not the reality. According to the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003, any lawsuit seeking damages for a wrongful death must also be filed within two years.
Injuries to Minors
An important exception to keep in mind is that if a child is injured in an accident, the two-year statute of limitations does not begin to run until that child reaches the age of 18. That means if your child was 15 years of age when the wreck occurred, he or she actually has five years to file a personal injury lawsuit because the two-year clock does not begin to count down until the child turns 18.
Have Questions About Whether You Still Have Time to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
Insurance companies are well aware of the two year statute of limitations, which is why they are inclined to drag their feet and take their time in getting back to you. They are hoping that you wait to speak to an attorney, procrastinate, and let the limitations period lapse. Do not make this mistake. If you or a family member was seriously injured in a car accident, take immediate action now and contact Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. to schedule a free, confidential case review 713-221-6800.