It only takes a split second for a car accident to disrupt your life. One moment you’re driving home, to work, or to the grocery store, and the next, you’re dealing with physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial burdens. You want compensation, but with your priorities being healing and recovery, it can be easy to forget that you have a deadline for suing after a car accident in San Antonio. Overlooking this time frame can leave you without the recourse you deserve.
At the Villarreal & Begum, LAW GUNS, we have helped many clients get justice after a serious car accident. Part of the process is ensuring that the personal injury lawsuit is filed on time. In this blog, we explain the statute of limitations in Texas and how a San Antonio car accident lawyer can ensure that you take action within the appropriate time frame.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Texas
In a personal injury context, the statute of limitations sets a time limit for taking legal action after an accident occurs. This concept is intended to balance the interests of the injured party and the legal system, ensuring that claims are brought forth promptly while preserving the integrity of all evidence.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, such as those arising from car accidents, is generally two years from the date of the incident. This means that if you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you have a two-year window to file a lawsuit against the responsible party unless exceptions like the following apply to your case.
- Legal Disability: If you are under a legal disability at the time of the accident, meaning that you are a minor or considered to be of unsound mind, the two-year countdown may not begin until the period of legal disability concludes (when you reach 18 years of age or regain mental competence).
- Defendant’s Absence: If the at-fault party leaves Texas after the accident but before the lawsuit can be filed, their period of absence won’t be included in the calculation of the two-year period.
- Suing a Government Agency: If you intend to seek compensation from a government agency (for example, you were struck by a city bus or postal van), you must submit your injury claim within six months of the incident. In certain cities, more stringent filing requirements may apply. For instance, if you plan to file a claim against the city of San Antonio, you have only 90 days to do so.
Why Does the Statute of Limitations Exist?
The existence of a statute of limitations serves several important purposes within the legal system:
- Preservation of Evidence: Over time, evidence can deteriorate, memories can fade, and witnesses may become harder to locate. By imposing time limits, the system encourages parties to gather and present their evidence in a timely manner, ensuring that the available information is as accurate and reliable as possible.
- Prompt Resolution: The swift resolution of legal disputes benefits all parties involved. Plaintiffs can seek compensation sooner, and defendants can address the claims against them while the incident is still fresh in everyone’s minds.
- Fairness and Certainty: Time limits provide a sense of closure and finality to potential legal claims. They prevent situations where individuals could be held liable for events that occurred many years ago, which could be unjust and unmanageable.
- Encouraging Settlements: Knowing that time is limited, parties are often motivated to negotiate and reach settlements outside of court, saving time, money, and emotional energy for all involved.
Why Should I Sue? Won’t the Insurance Company Pay My Damages?
The insurance company should compensate you fairly for your damages since that’s basically their obligation. Unfortunately, some companies exploit people in tough situations. Your vehicle might be out of commission, medical expenses could be accumulating rapidly, and the absence from work could be affecting your income. Knowing that you’re at your most vulnerable, these insurers will offer you a fraction of what you deserve, hoping you’ll take it out of desperation.
This is where a San Antonio personal injury attorney can help. They have the skills, knowledge, and experience to stand up against these insurance companies and demand the compensation you are entitled to. By enlisting the services of a capable car accident lawyer, you gain the support required to secure the financial compensation you need.
What Happens if the Statute of Limitations Expires?
If the statute of limitations expires without you taking action, you may lose your legal right to seek compensation for your injuries and damages from the responsible party. While there are some exceptions and circumstances under which the statute of limitations can be extended or tolled, these exceptions are usually specific and may require demonstrating certain conditions such as fraud, legal disabilities, or other extraordinary circumstances.
What to Do Immediately After a Car Accident
When you’ve been injured in a collision, what you want to do after an accident is prioritize your safety and the safety of others. Move to a safe location if possible and turn on hazard lights. Then assess yourself and others involved for injuries. Call emergency services if medical attention is required. You’ll also want to involve law enforcement to create an official accident report. This document can be valuable for insurance claims and legal actions.
While you’re waiting for the police and an ambulance, take the following steps:
- Exchange contact, insurance, and vehicle information with all parties involved and get contact details from witnesses. Stick to the basics and refrain from assigning or accepting blame.
- Use your smartphone camera to document the accident scene, damage to vehicles, and any relevant road conditions. These visual records can be vital later.
You should always seek medical attention. Even if you feel fine, some injuries might not be immediately apparent, so it’s important to rule out any internal injuries or delayed symptoms. Keep all medical records, bills, and reports related to the accident, as these documents can serve as evidence of your injuries and treatment.
Once you know that you’ve sustained compensable injuries, speak to a San Antonio car accident lawyer. They can offer guidance on how to proceed and protect your rights. Your lawyer will also help you collect and preserve evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and file a personal injury lawsuit before the applicable statute of limitations expires.
Get a Free Consultation From a San Antonio Car Accident Lawyer
After a car accident, the whirlwind of physical and emotional challenges can often obscure the critical element of time. Swift action is imperative, as the statute of limitations in Texas places a two-year time frame on most personal injury claims arising from car accidents.
At the Villarreal & Begum, LAW GUNS, we’ve witnessed firsthand the significance of this timeline and the consequences of overlooking it. Let us handle the legal aspects of your claim while you focus on healing. For more information or to schedule a free initial consultation, call (210) 800-0000 or contact us online today.
The Villarreal & Begum, LAW GUNS dedicates their time and effort towards helping people in Texas find justice for personal negligence encountered while living their normal, everyday lives.