Did you know you have limited time after a car accident to file any claims? Understanding the Texas car accident statute of limitations is key to protecting your legal rights for damages.
After sustaining an injury in a car accident, your health and well-being may understandably be your primary focus. However, Texas law limits how long injured victims have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to obtain compensation for their medical bills, car repairs or replacement, lost wages, and other expenses.
Over the past 35 years, Baumgartner Law Firm has been dedicated to helping car accident victims in cities and towns across the state of Texas navigate the complexities of the legal system. We provide clients with the proven legal representation they deserve to aid in their recovery and secure their financial future. Our unmatched professionalism and excellence have been recognized by Super Lawyers, Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Lead Counsel Rated, Newsweek, Martindale Hubble, and many others.
Baumgartner Law Firm can explain everything you need to know about the Texas car accident statute of limitations to protect your legal rights and ensure that you are in a position to get the compensation you truly deserve. If you have questions or need help filing a claim or lawsuit, request a free consultation with our lawyer by calling (281) 587-1111 or visiting our contact page.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
All states, including Texas, place time limits on a victim’s right to file a lawsuit and recover damages after a car accident. In other words, you only have a certain time to bring legal action against a liable party after an accident gives rise to a cause of action. This time limit, called the “statute of limitations,” varies considerably by two criteria: state law and the type of legal action.
Because the plaintiff (the injured party) has limited time to initiate legal proceedings against the defendant (the liable party), the statute of limitations prevents potential defendants from being subject to unfair or remote litigation.
What Is the Texas Car Accident Statute of Limitations?
Generally, the statute of limitations for car accidents in Texas is two years from the date of the accident under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §16.003. The two-year deadline applies to all car accident lawsuits against the at-fault party, regardless of whether the plaintiff is initiating legal proceedings for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Begin?
The limitation period typically starts running on the day the car accident happens. This date is also known as the date a cause of action “accrues.” If a plaintiff files a personal injury or wrongful death claim in Texas, the cause of action accrues on the date of the accident that caused the death.
What Happens if the Defendant Is a Government Agency?
If a car accident results from the negligence of a government agency or entity (e.g., dangerous road conditions) or a government employee (a crash caused by a city bus driver), there is a special set of rules, including time limits, for filing a legal claim. According to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §101.101, injured victims must give government agencies notice of their claim within a shorter period – only six months (and the time can be less for some local governmental entities)– after the accident that gives rise to the claim. If the government agency is not notified of the claim within six months (or a shorter timeline), the plaintiff may lose their right to sue.
What Happens if the Statute of Limitations Deadline Expires?
If you missed the statute of limitations after a car accident in Texas but file a lawsuit anyway, the individual or entity named as the “defendant” in your lawsuit will bring a motion to dismiss. The court will most likely grant the motion unless you can demonstrate that your case qualifies for one of the Texas car accident statute of limitations exceptions.
If you file a lawsuit after the expiration of the statute of limitations deadline and the court grants the defendant’s motion to dismiss your legal action, you will be left without an avenue to recover damages through litigation. It is crucial to understand that the time limit for your car accident case is not a flexible deadline. That is why you must take timely action to protect your rights and consult with a lawyer to discuss your best course of action and the chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit before initiating legal proceedings.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Texas Car Accidents
When your case qualifies for an exception, the deadline for filing a lawsuit after a car accident can be extended. Texas law recognizes the following exceptions to the statute of limitations:
- The plaintiff is mentally disabled or incapacitated. Suppose the potential plaintiff lacks mental capacity, which prevents them from making legal decisions, including the decision to pursue legal action. In that case, the statute of limitations might be tolled (paused) until they are no longer mentally disabled or incapacitated.
- The plaintiff is a minor. If the potential plaintiff has not reached the age of 18 on the date of the car accident, the two-year statute of limitations will not start running until after their 18th birthday. In other words, the victim can file a lawsuit until their 20th birthday.
- The defendant leaves the state. If the potential defendant leaves the state of Texas or is otherwise unavailable before a lawsuit is filed, the two-year time limit is tolled until they return.
If any of these three exceptions may apply to your car accident case, you might be able to extend the deadline for bringing legal action. You must discuss the facts of your case with a Texas personal injury lawyer right away. However, it is highly recommended that you do not wait too long to consult with a lawyer to discuss the specifics of your case and understand your best course of action.
Get Help from a Nationally Recognized Personal Injury Law Firm
If you have questions about the Texas car accident statute of limitations or your right to file a lawsuit, contact Baumgartner Law Firm. We understand that you are going through an extremely difficult time and may not have the energy to worry about resolving legal issues. Our award-winning personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the complicated waters a car accident has put you and your family in and take the legal burden off your shoulders.
We have the necessary expertise and resources to handle your case from beginning to end so you can focus on your recovery and return to your normal lifestyle. Reach out to our office today for a free case assessment and discuss how we can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Call (281) 587-1111 or fill out the form at the bottom of this page to request a free consultation.
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About Our Law Firm
Baumgartner Law Firm is a Houston personal injury law firm headed by Greg Baumgartner.
Our firm was established in 1985 and has helped thousands of injury victims get maximum compensation for their cases. If you have been injured in an accident in Houston, TX, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. (281) 587-1111.
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