After a car accident, you may be left with injuries, property damage, and financial hardships. To relieve some of the financial burdens, you might consider filing a lawsuit. Before doing so, it is essential to understand the law, including statutes of limitations.
WHAT IS A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS?
A statute of limitations is a law that governs how long a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit.
There are statutes of limitations for every kind of legal claim. Once this time clock runs out, you will be unable to recover for your losses.
While you may file your lawsuit, the opposing party will likely call attention to the expiration of the statute of limitations, and your case will be dismissed. Filing your lawsuit before the statute of limitations has run is crucial.
WHY DO STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS EXIST?
Statutes of limitations exist for civil and criminal claims. While a statute of limitations may seem unfair or restrictive, these time limits serve a purpose. Statutes of limitations primarily serve to protect defendants from stale or frivolous lawsuits. They also encourage plaintiffs to file their lawsuits in a timely manner.
The more time passes, the weaker a case can get. Evidence may be lost, people’s memories fade, and cases become harder to pursue. A statute of limitations eliminates these issues.
HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE A CLAIM AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT IN TEXAS?
After a car accident, you must call your insurance company. While there are no laws governing how long you have to file a claim with your insurance, most insurance carriers require you to notify them as soon as possible.
If you wish to pursue legal action after your car accident, the car accident statute of limitations in Texas is two years. These two years pertain to both personal injury claims and property damage claims. After the statute of limitations for motor vehicles has expired, you will no longer be able to recover for your accident.
ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS TO THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS?
Certain situations may allow the two-year time limit to be paused or “tolled.”
If a person is under the age of 18, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until they reach the age of majority.
If a person is of unsound mind, the statute of limitations will be tolled until they regain a sound mind.
The discovery rule applies when, after an accident, a person is unaware of their injuries. Not all injuries are apparent immediately after an accident, with some injuries taking some time to surface. The statute of limitations will begin to run only once the plaintiff has discovered their injuries.
HOW LONG DOES AN INSURANCE COMPANY HAVE TO SETTLE A CLAIM IN TEXAS?
Once you file a claim with your insurance company, they must either accept or reject your claim. Under Section 542.055 of the Texas Statutes, the insurance company has 15 days to do the following:
- Acknowledge your claim;
- Begin their investigation into the claim; and
- Request any relevant information needed to assist with their investigation.
Aside from these steps, an insurer must communicate their acceptance or rejection of your claim. If the company rejects your claim, they must provide their reasons. Insurance companies may extend their investigation for up to 45 days if they have sufficient reason to do so.
Whether there is a delay in your claim process or you’ve experienced rejection, a knowledgeable attorney can help you every step of the way.
SHOULD YOU SETTLE WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY?
While your insurance company may present a settlement offer after reviewing your claim, we recommend that you not accept without first consulting with a personal injury attorney. Insurance companies are known to offer low or unfair settlement in an effort to resolve issues quickly and avoid legal action. Before rushing to settle, speak with a qualified and experienced attorney.
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