In every state, there is a law known as the statute of limitations. This law refers to the time period in which victims of a car accident must report claims of negligence of the other party involved in the accident. Under this statute, claimants are required to file claims of both damages and physical injury to themselves or other parties as a direct result of the accident. Anyone who does not comply with the specified timeline is at risk of being barred from the court in relation to the accident. This completely eliminates the possibility of receiving compensation.
The Texas Statute of Limitations
According to the statute of limitations in Texas, people who are filing lawsuits (including those filing for compensation of damages due to auto accidents), can only do so within a limited time frame. This law applies not only to drivers, but to passengers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists – essentially, regardless of vehicle type, anyone who can in some way be directly involved in an accident.
Within the particular time frame, victims can file suit for personal injury, property damage, and wrongful death. For wrongful deaths, there is a special exception under which the time can be delayed for up to one year. (Further specifications for wrongful death state that any time limitations imposed on such claims begin only when the individual dies. It is likely in some cases that the date of death is different from the date of the accident.)
The Reasoning Behind the Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations are intended for the protection of defendants. By requiring the plaintiff to file any claims within a restricted time, this encourages the process to be completed in a timely manner. This also ensures that no key information is lost. Documentation can be misplaced or lost entirely due to police departments updating computer networks or relocating evidence. Any notes or photos you may have recorded of the accident are also subject to being lost over the years.
Any witnesses or parties involved that may be called upon to testify will (likely) be recalling the details of the accident from a relatively fresh memory when the matter is handled within the two-year period.
All this said, the statute of limitations, although intended for the protection of defendants, can work in favor of the victim as well. The law provides plaintiffs the chance to thoroughly and accurately report the incident in a timeframe that keeps information fresh and relevant but also allows for ample time to notice any developments from injuries.
For example, many people do not recognize injuries from accidents until several weeks after it has occurred. A hip or wrist injury may not be totally recognizable until after having used it for some time. In the case of wrongful death, there may have been internal injuries that simply went unseen. Though the two years may seem restrictive at first glance, it can work to the benefit of victims of car accidents just as well as those at-fault.