- April 21
- Personal Injury
After being in an accident, you only have a certain amount of time to file your personal injury claim. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. Under Texas law, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. If you fail to file your claim in time, it could be dismissed by the court.
Understanding the statute of limitations can be difficult, but this article can help you know when to file your personal injury case in Texas.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time you have to file a particular case. The statute of limitations period will depend on the type of case you want to file and may differ depending on certain circumstances.
The statute of limitations is typically a hard line you cannot cross. If you file a personal injury claim beyond the applicable statute of limitations, the trial court will almost certainly dismiss the case.
Why Does Texas Impose Filing Deadlines for Personal Injury Cases?
There are several reasons that states like Texas add filing deadlines. Statutes of limitations are meant to limit the potential time of exposure a defendant has. The logic is that an injured person should be proactive in their claim, and the defendant should have a reasonable amount of time for liability, without that time lasting to eternity.
The other reason has to do with the quality of evidence. The time limit is meant to ensure that the evidence needed to prove the personal injury claim still exists and is of good quality. Over time, relevant evidence can be lost. The statute of limitations encourages plaintiffs to file their claim while the evidence is still available to prove their claim.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Texas?
How long after an accident can you sue in Texas? Texas Statutes § 16.003 requires that most personal injury claims be filed within two years of the date the accident occurred. If you file your claim after that time, your case will likely be dismissed as untimely. This means that a late filing will deprive you of the compensation you are owed even if your case should have been successful.
In most situations, the time limit starts on the day of your injury. For example, if you were in a car accident on January 1, 2023, you would have two years from the date of that accident to file your claim. If you filed after that time, your claim would be late and likely be dismissed by the court.
The best way to avoid this possibility is to contact a qualified Texas personal injury attorney right away. You should not wait to file a claim close to the statute of limitations, as this can have a negative impact on your claim.
Tolling of the Statute of Limitations
In certain rare cases, your statute of limitations period may toll. Tolling is a pause on the statute of limitations period. These are rare and apply to unique situations such as:
- When the victim of the accident was a minor
- If the victim is mentally incapacitated
- If the defendant purposefully avoids service of process (flees the state or avoids service of the complaint).
Tolling is a complicated aspect of Texas law. Whether your situation permits you to file the claim late is highly fact-dependent and should be reviewed by a qualified attorney.
Shorter Deadlines Against the Texas Government
Personal injury claims against the government are more complex. The Texas Tort Claims Act grants permission to sue the State of Texas for limited circumstances. An important requirement is that a notice of claim must be filed within 180 days (6 months) of the incident.
This is an incredibly short timeline as compared to the two-year general statute of limitations for other defendants. The process to file against the State is also more complex, and requires appropriate knowledge to handle the claim.
Can I Win Compensation if the Statute of Limitations Deadline Has Passed?
Once the statute of limitations period has passed, the trial court will most likely dismiss your case. Untimely cases are not even considered, regardless of whether they would have been successful if filed on time, unless a rare exception exists. This means that compensation like lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and more will be lost if you file the claim late.
For example, imagine you were in a car accident on January 1, 2019. You were badly injured and it took a long time to heal. The pain was substantial and you lost a significant amount of income while you were unable to work. If your claim was filed on time, you could be owed substantial compensation from your lawsuit.
However, imagine the case is not filed until February 1, 2023. This is over the two-year limit to file your personal injury claim. If that happens, the case will not be considered by the court, even if the defendant was obviously at fault for your accident.
How Long Should I Wait to File a Personal Injury Claim?
To avoid problems with the statute of limitations, filing your personal injury claim as soon as possible is best. You should consult a Texas personal injury attorney about your case to determine:
- When the filing deadline is for your unique case
- The potential compensation you may be owed
- What evidence is needed to prove your case
- How to alleviate some of the burdens you face from your injuries.
Waiting to near the end of the statute of limitations period is not advisable. Crucial evidence may be lost while you wait. The sooner you reach out to an attorney, the better the likely outcomes are in your case.
Speak to a Personal Injury Attorney in Texas About the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations deadline is one you do not want to miss. Filing late can rob you of the substantial compensation you might be owed by a negligent defendant. At Evans/Reilley, we make it our mission to provide you with the best possible advice and comprehensive representation. We understand what you are going through and want to ensure you file your claim in plenty of time.
Call (512) 732-2727 or contact us on our website for a free consultation of your case as soon as possible after the accident.