For those who aren’t well-versed in legal jargon, a “statute of limitations” is a law that sets a deadline on when you can file a lawsuit in court. The specific deadlines vary from state to state, and also change depending on what kind of case you have.
If you’re injured in a car wreck, it’s crucial to understand this rule and how it could apply to your situation. If you don’t develop a legal strategy before the Texas statute of limitations period ends, you could lose your ability to make a claim, be left with thousands in unpaid medical expenses, and lose your ability to receive compensation for your injuries.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the lawsuit filing deadlines for Texas car accidents, why these deadlines are so important, and outline a few scenarios when the filing period might be extended.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Texas Car Accidents?
According to the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 16.003, any civil action for “personal injury” must be filed “not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues”.
To put it in simpler terms: you have exactly (2) two years to file your Texas car accident lawsuit from the day your accident happens.
For example, if you were in a car accident in Dallas on May 25, 2022, you would likely have two years from the date of that car accident to file a civil lawsuit for property damage or injuries. So, your deadline to file would be May 25, 2024.
It’s important to keep in mind that your case does not need to be tried by a court or heard by a jury within two years. The statute of limitations requires only that you file a lawsuit within that two-year deadline, if the case hasn’t previously been settled. Remember, you can always settle your claim without filing a lawsuit. If you don’t, the statute of limitations becomes very important
Special Circumstances Surrounding the Statute of Limitations and Texas Car Accidents
Under Texas law, there are special exceptions for car accidents that occur on a holiday or weekend. For instance, if your statute date falls on a holiday or on a Saturday or Sunday, your filing deadline is extended to include the next day that the county offices are open.
There are also other special circumstances when the clock might temporarily pause or the deadline might extend. These situations include:
- If the car accident victim is a minor, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until they turn 18;
- The statute of limitations can extend beyond the two-year mark if the defendant leaves the state before you can begin legal proceedings;
- The plaintiff of the personal injury suit has a mental or physical impairment that prevented the filing of the suit within the two-year period; or
- The defendant committed fraud.
An experienced Texas car accident attorney can help you determine whether an exception exists and how this might impact your ability to bring forth a lawsuit.
What Happens After the Deadline Expires?
Typically, these rules are applied strictly by Texas courts. If you tried to file a car accident lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, the defendant would almost certainly respond back with a “motion to dismiss” and point the time lapse out to the court.
And unless one of the special exceptions we’ve outlined above entitles you to extra time, the Texas civil court system will likely refuse to hear your case, dismissing it permanently.
Once you miss the two-year deadline, you not only lose the right to have your day in court, but you also lose your avenue to receive fair compensation for your injuries—regardless of how significant they may be and regardless of how strong your case is against the at-fault driver.
For this reason, it’s critical to meet with an experienced Texas car accident attorney as soon as possible to ensure you have everything you need to file your suit before the deadline.
Meet With an Experienced Texas Car Accident Lawyer As Soon As Possible
Remember, the clock starts ticking once your accident happens. Even if you’re pretty sure your personal injury case will be resolved through the car insurance claim process, it’s always a good idea to meet with an experienced car accident lawyer.
Not only can they evaluate your claim and negotiate with the insurance company so that you receive fair compensation for your injuries, but meeting with an attorney will give you plenty of time to file a lawsuit if you need to. Preparing ahead will also give your legal team ample time to collect evidence and will give you more leverage from a settlement negotiation strategy standpoint.
Whether you’re filing an insurance claim or considering filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, it’s best to meet with an experienced Texas car accident attorney to make sure you keep all your legal options on the table.
The Experienced Texas Car Accident Lawyers at The Law Offices of Tim O'Hare Can Help You Win
If you have questions about how the Texas statute of limitations applies to your car accident case—especially if the deadline is quickly approaching—it is time to discuss your situation with a lawyer familiar with Texas car accidents.
When you contact the legal experts at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare, we’ll help you understand how much time left you have to file a lawsuit and work quickly to preserve critical evidence against the negligent driver who hurt you.
Don’t miss your chance to get the compensation and justice you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with our team to learn more about your legal rights.