If you suffer an injury because of someone else’s negligence in a traffic crash or another accident scenario, and you need to recover compensation, you’ll have to meet some deadlines, and you will need to be advised and represented by an Austin personal injury attorney.
How long does an injured victim of negligence have to take legal action to recover compensation in Texas? What are your legal rights and options as an injured negligence victim? Exactly what steps should you take to recover monetary compensation for your medical bills and other losses?
If you’ll keep reading, these questions will be answered in this brief discussion of the personal injury process, statutes of limitations, and your rights as a negligence victim in the State of Texas.
What Are Statutes of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline for taking legal action. For instance, a statute of limitations for criminal cases prevents evidence from fading or deteriorating over time. Prosecutors must file criminal charges before a legally-specified deadline passes.
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Texas is two years, unless an exception applies to the case. The two-year deadline generally applies to all personal injury, product liability, premises liability, and wrongful death claims filed in this state.
Take Action Immediately After You’ve Been Injured
Whether you’ve been injured by a negligent driver in a vehicle crash, on private property at a business, by a defective consumer product, or at your own workplace, you shouldn’t wait two years and then scramble to take action at the last possible moment.
When you are an injured victim of someone else’s negligence in Texas, have a medical examination as quickly as possible, obtain the proper treatment, and then discuss your rights and your legal options with an Austin personal injury lawyer.
If you are injured because someone else was negligent – a careless driver, a store’s management, even a dog owner – you’re entitled to full compensation for your current and projected injury-related medical bills, lost wages, projected lost wages, and all related losses.
How Will a Texas Personal Injury Attorney Help You?
However, being “entitled” to compensation is something you may have to prove, and you’ll need help from an Austin personal injury attorney. Your attorney will examine the evidence, question any witnesses, and may ask experts to provide testimony or statements in support of your claim.
Your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf for a generous settlement. Most personal injury claims are resolved out-of-court, but if a negotiated settlement cannot be reached, you’ll need a lawyer who can tell your story in court and fight effectively for the maximum available compensation.
About the Statute of Limitations in Texas
The Texas statute of limitations for injury claims states that a civil action for any “personal injury” must be initiated “not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues,” meaning two years after the date of the incident that caused the personal injury, in most cases.
In most civil cases arising from traffic accidents and from premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, or incidents of wrongful death, the injured party or “plaintiff” will seek compensation based on the negligence or carelessness of the other party (the “defendant”).
Civil cases, however, also include claims for personal injuries that were caused intentionally, such as assaults or injuries suffered by innocent bystanders during the commission of a crime.
Are There Exceptions to the Texas Statute of Limitations?
While you should act quickly after an injury (your attorney needs to examine evidence while it’s fresh and question witnesses before their memories fade), go ahead and speak to an attorney even if two years have passed, as your case may qualify under an exception to the two-year deadline.
Texas law spells out several situations that might slow down the statute of limitations “clock” or put it on pause. These are examples of the situations that may extend the standard two-year deadline:
- If an injury victim is “under a legal disability” – meaning that he or she is under 18 years old or “of unsound mind” – the statute of limitations clock may not begin until the legal disability has passed, meaning the victim turns age 18 or becomes mentally competent.
- If after the accident and injury – but before a claim is filed – the allegedly negligent party (the would-be defendant) leaves Texas, the time of that person’s absence may not be included as a part of the two-year deadline period.
What If the Defendant Is a Government Agency?
The deadline is shorter when a state or local government agency may have liability for a plaintiff’s personal injury. The Texas Tort Claims Act requires a purported victim to notify the agency of his or her intention to seek compensation within six months of the injury date.
Some Texas municipalities have established shorter deadlines for notifying a city government about an impending personal injury claim. San Antonio has a 90-day limit. Austin has a 45 day-limit. If you are injured by a city bus, for example, contact a personal injury attorney at once.
You’ll need experienced, knowledgeable legal help if you sue the government in Texas. Suing any government agency entails some strict procedural requirements. Have your personal injury lawyer help you prepare a notification if the defendant in your case is a government agency.
What Else Should You Know About Statutes of Limitations?
Again, if you are not sure about a statute of limitations deadline, reach out to an Austin personal injury lawyer to discuss your options. Putting a lawyer on the case as soon as possible is important if you are seeking compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, and other damages.
The statutes of limitations in Texas are meant to create fairness by encouraging the injured victims of negligence to act within a reasonable time-frame so that no one has to deal with claims about old and nearly-forgotten incidents.
If you have any questions or concerns about the statute of limitations in Texas or about your own personal injury case, now is the time to discuss your situation with a Texas personal injury attorney.