Many people do not realize that you have a short amount of time to file a lawsuit following a car accident in Texas. It is easy to delay while you are recovering from injuries and getting your life back on track but waiting too long can have serious consequences. This is where the term statute of limitations comes in. It is the law that dictates the limited amount of time that Texas recognizes as the reasonable amount of time to file a lawsuit.
What Does the Statute of Limitations Mean?
The statute of limitation specifies how long you have to file a lawsuit. There are different time restrictions for different types of cases. Each state has its own statute of limitations laws.
Filing your claim within the statute of limitations is critical to obtaining financial compensation for your damages. If you file past the permissible time, the lawsuit can be dismissed. The court will not automatically dismiss the lawsuit on its own. Instead, the defendant in the case must file a motion to have the case dismissed as untimely under the statute of limitations.
It is important to note that the case does not need to be decided by the court or heard by the jury at that time. The law only requires that the claim is filed.
What Is the Purpose of the Statute of Limitations?
The main purpose of the statute of limitations is to protect defendants from legal action after an unreasonable amount of time has passed and encourage plaintiffs to be diligent about pursuing legal claims. In addition, setting a time limit guarantees that evidence will not be lost over time and that witnesses can reasonably draw on recent memories.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Texas?
In most cases, Texas car accident lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of the car crash. The date of the accident is found at the top of the accident report. It does not matter if the claim is filed by a driver, passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian. If the last day of the limitation period falls on a holiday or a weekend, the period is extended to include the day that the courts are open.
Are There Exceptions to the Two-Year Time Limit in Texas?
In Fort Bend, a car accident claim will not always be dismissed if it is filed after two years. There are limited exceptions. A qualified attorney can determine if a statute of limitations other than two years applies to your case. A few examples of exceptions are listed below.
• The plaintiff is a minor. If the plaintiff is a minor when the accident occurred, the statute of limitations does not begin until they turn 18.
• The defendant leaves the state before the plaintiff can begin legal proceedings. If the defendant leaves Texas before the lawsuit is filed, the clock will be paused until they return. The period that the defendant is gone will not count against the two-year countdown.
• The injury is inherently undiscoverable. An injury is undiscoverable if it is unlikely to be discovered within the statute of limitations period, despite due diligence. The statute of limitations is paused until the injury is discovered. This definition does not include all instances where a plaintiff does not discover their injury.
• An individual died as a result of a car accident. If you file a wrongful death lawsuit, the statute of limitations is still two years, but the clock does not start until the deceased person’s death. In some cases, this could be different than the date of the accident.
• The victim is mentally disabled or incapacitated. If the victim is in a coma or otherwise is unable to make legal decisions, the clock does not start until they are no longer incapacitated.
• You are filing a claim against the government. Under Texas law, if you file a lawsuit against the government, you must provide the state with the notice within 180 days. The notice should include damages claimed, the time and location of the crash, and a description of events. The time period is shorter for certain counties and municipalities. For example, Houston has a 90-day limit.
Your Fort Bend Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one were in a car accident, you should reach out to a qualified Fort Bend attorney as soon as possible. Adam Capetillo is a Fort Bend County native who will evaluate your case and provide the best possible representation. As a skilled personal injury lawyer, Adam Capetillo can effectively guide you through the entire process from start to finish. Call Capetillo Law Firm today for a free consultation.