It happened in an instant: one second, you were driving normally, and the next second you were in an accident. Now what? When should you call a car accident lawyer? How long do you have to file a claim? In this article, we'll discuss the most important laws you need to know regarding Texas car accidents, including the statute of limitations, fault laws, and reporting regulations.
Regarding motor vehicle crashes, the term "statute of limitations" refers to the legal deadline you have to file a claim after your accident. Every state in the US has a different statute of limitations for filing car accident claims, ranging from just one year up to ten years. However, the time limit can also vary based on the type of claim and jurisdiction where the accident occurred.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for car accident claims is two years from the date of the accident. This means you only have two years to contact a top car accident attorney in Houston to begin the process of filing your claim. Therefore, hiring an experienced lawyer as quickly as possible to handle your case is crucial. The right lawyer can help you gather evidence, build your case, negotiate with the insurance company, or—if necessary—advocate for your rights in court.
We just said that you have two years to file your claim after a car crash, starting on the day the accident occurred. However, there are some additional regulations that you should note. The Texas statute of limitations begins once the people involved in the accident know or have reasonable knowledge of the injuries and harm the crash caused. If the person dies from their injuries, the clock doesn't begin until the day they pass away.
There are some exceptions to the deadline for filing a Texas car accident claim. If the person injured is a minor, the statute clock doesn't begin until the day they turn 18, although a parent can file on their behalf before their 18th birthday. In addition, the statute clock extends if the defendant (the person you're suing) leaves the state before you can initiate legal proceedings or a claim against them. The time they're gone doesn't count towards the two-year limit.
Texas law requires drivers to file Crash Report Form CR-2 within ten days after an accident, provided the police didn't investigate. However, suppose the accident causes injury, death, or vehicle damage so severe that it's no longer possible to drive safely. In that case, you must contact the police on the spot and wait for them to come and investigate.
Texas is a "modified" comparative fault state, which means that both parties in the accident can share the blame. Under this law, the damages a plaintiff can be awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault they had in causing the accident. Here's the most important part: to seek compensation for injuries you sustained in a car crash, you must be no more than 50% at fault for causing the accident.
In general, you should file a claim as quickly as possible. Waiting too long may cast doubt on your claim, even if your injury or the damage to your vehicle took some time to appear. Even if you're well within the statute of limitations, you may have a harder time proving your case if you wait too long to file. For example, evidence may become lost, or witnesses could move or forget. Also, you'll have to answer questions as to why you waited so long to file your claim.
Even if you were in a minor motor vehicle crash, you should still retain the services of an experienced personal injury and car accident lawyer. Most lawyers begin with an in-depth case evaluation of the accident's circumstances. After the initial case review, your attorney will provide sound legal advice regarding how to proceed with your claim, if it's worth it to file, and how you can seek maximum compensation for your injuries.
Car accident cases may seem straightforward, but things can change very quickly. Like we said, sometimes injuries or damage don't appear for weeks or months, or new evidence could come to light that could change the circumstances of your entire case. However, having a personal injury lawyer on your side ensures you're prepared and ready to handle any unexpected bumps or obstacles along the way.
So, what's the main takeaway here? You only have a limited time after a car crash to sue the other party; otherwise, you'll lose your right to file a claim and seek compensation for your injuries or property damage. The deadline in Texas is two years, but every US state has different guidelines. So don't take a chance with your case—instead, hire an experienced car accident attorney to help you navigate the legal process with confidence.
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