Being involved in a car accident is a traumatizing experience that can tremendous pain and frustration. This is especially true whenever the accident leads to massive property damage and permanent injuries that require months or years of medical treatment. In some cases, the victims sustain permanent injuries which may limit a person’s ability for years to come. It may never feel like the right time to start the legal process, as you are tending to your injuries. However, there are time limits on how long you have to file a lawsuit.
In Texas, the statute of limitations on most personal injury actions is two years. This means that you have two years from the date of the accident to file the petition in court. However, the legal claim process should start much earlier, which is why it is highly recommend to consult with a personal injury attorney about your case as soon as possible.
Just because you can sue does not mean all accident cases need to become a lawsuit. Every injury case is reviewed based on two central aspects: the existence of damages and liability. You are required to prove that another person was negligent in causing your injury. Sometimes this is easy to prove: if the other driver ran a red light, was distracted, or followed too closely behind you, then they are often considered negligent. Check the police report to see who the officer cited as responsible for the accident.
You also need to prove your injury. This is best shown through hard evidence like medical bills and records.
With these, you can bring your case forward, but even with this evidence showing that the other person is responsible, you may not need to file a lawsuit.
In many cases, the insurance company of the negligent driver will recognize that their insured was at fault. They will look at the police report and medical bills and evaluate your injury claim. They likely will not value the damages as highly as the injured party, and they may refuse to pay for some treatment.
This is where having a car accident lawyer is helpful. Your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. He/she will explain to the insurance adjuster the evidence that will be presented to the jury, and why a jury is likely award a certain amount for this claim. Your attorney will reference the police report and parts of the medical records to bolster your case.
Hopefully, you can reach an agreement with the insurance company without the need for court intervention. If that fails, then it is the right time to file a lawsuit.
The legal claims process can take over a year, so you want to give yourself enough time to try to resolve your claim amicably without filing a lawsuit. But regardless of how long the claims process takes, you only have two years from the date of accident to file a lawsuit. Many lawyers will not want to take a case if the two year deadline is about to expire. This is why it is highly adviseable to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
If you have been a victim of a car accident, and you are not sure of how or when to sue for the damages incurred, call our offices today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We are happy to point you in the right direction, regardless of whether you need an attorney.