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How Long Do You Have to File a Claim for a Truck Accident?

by | Mar 31, 2022 | Truck Accidents | 0 comments

You have a limited amount of time to act in any personal injury action. Every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. These are deadlines that you must be conscious of and take very seriously. Missing the statute of limitations will cost you the ability to file a lawsuit. You cannot afford to ignore this. Below, we will explain what this legal concept means and how it should impact what you do after a truck injury.

The statute of limitations exists because the legal system wants to be fair to all parties involved. It will be unfair to a defendant to face a lawsuit without warning years after an accident. Everyone needs some certainty and predictability. The statute of limitations is a policy choice that the law makes to be fair and equitable. While you have your legal rights, a potential defendant has theirs too. The law is not just about personal injury victims.

The Statute of Limitations Forces You to File a Claim While the Evidence Is Still Helpful

File a Claim for a Truck AccidentIn a way, the statute of limitations also helps you, even though it is a restriction placed upon you. After a certain point, you may lose crucial evidence that you need to prove your case. Recollections may fade, and parties can lose records. Your case is stronger when you move more quickly to lock down your proof. While the statute of limitations appears unfavorable to you, it forces you to proceed when your case is the strongest.

In Texas, the statute of limitations in a truck accident case is “not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues.” In practically every case, this is the date of the accident. The same statute of limitations applies in a wrongful death case resulting from a truck accident.

There is rarely uncertainty about when the statute of limitations begins to run in a wrongful death claim. It is usually the day the accident victim dies or when the family members learn the death happened due to someone else’s negligence. If the death happens sometime after the injury, it will reset the clock. However, do not wait because it will prolong the time it takes to get your money.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

However, you may not discover your injuries at the exact time of the accident. Theoretically, if you were diligent but did not discover your injuries until a later date, then the statute of limitations will begin to run then.

There are several exceptions to the statute of limitations that may apply:

  • Truck accident victims under the age of 18 at the time of the accident will have a different statute of limitations run when they reach adulthood, although most parents will file lawsuits on behalf of their children.
  • When the defendant who caused your injuries leaves the state, the statute of limitations pauses until they return.
  • If you did not know that you were injured or that the defendant was responsible, the statute of limitations begins to run at the point that you learned of your injury or realized that someone else was to blame.

The Statute of Limitations Is a Hard Deadline

Regardless, you are best off not trying to rely on any exception or wiggle room in the statute of limitations. These are very hard deadlines. If you miss it by even a day, the court will dismiss your lawsuit without further consideration. The statute of limitations is a jurisdictional issue. If you miss the deadline, the court cannot hear your case at all. You will not get a decision on the merits of your case because the court is not allowed to consider them.

The court will even move on its own to dismiss the case even if nobody files a motion to dismiss. This is one of the first things that a defendant will look at when you file a case that appears close to the deadline. If they find any gray area, the defendant will file a motion to dismiss based on the statute of limitations.

What You Must Do to Meet the Deadline?

From your standpoint, this means:

  • You should see a doctor who can extensively examine you after your truck accident
  • You must diligently pursue medical care and follow all of your doctor’s recommendations
  • You should call a lawyer as soon as you can after your injury
  • You should continue to pursue your legal action, even if you are dealing with physical injuries

You Must Reach the Point of Maximum Medical Improvement

Regarding medical care, there are reasons why you may need to wait to file your claim. Typically, claimants wait until they have reached the point of maximum medical improvement to file a claim.

At this point, further treatment may not result in any improvement to your condition. It can take some time to reach this point. You may have to undergo multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. Therefore, you should have all of your injuries thoroughly diagnosed and begin treatment as soon as possible. Not only is this good for your health, but prompt treatment will also benefit your legal claim.

You must still act to learn of your injuries and someone else’s responsibility. If you can have taken some action but did not, you will not receive leeway from the law. In other words, when you do not act in the face of obvious reasons to do something, the statute of limitations will still work against you.

The key is that your cause of action accrues when you should have known of your injuries or someone else’s blame. The court will look at what a reasonable person in your shoes will have done to learn their cause of action. A reasonable person will do something to obtain a diagnosis and seek medical treatment.

Investigating Your Claim Takes Time and Effort

It is understandably difficult for you to act when facing serious injuries and the stress that goes along with a truck accident. These are the most difficult times for you and your family, and you may have little ability or motivation to engage in something as difficult as the legal process. However, you do not have a choice, in part because of the statute of limitations.

In addition, the truck accident claims process can take some time, especially when your claim is for a lot of money. The sooner you begin work on your claim, the sooner you may receive a check for your injuries.

Much about the legal process is out of your control. The insurance company may take a hard line in negotiations. Your case may take more time than expected to investigate. Either way, you have every motivation to begin work on your case as soon as you can.

When you contact an experienced truck accident lawyer, you do not have to do the work alone. Your lawyer will handle the details of the claim. You just need to make decisions after receiving advice, explanation, and recommendations from your attorney. Therefore, you do not need to worry or stress about the legal process. You have enough to worry about during this difficult time without dealing with insurance companies and corporate defense lawyers.

Do Not Rush for the Sake of Rushing

While you need to certainly be conscious of the statute of limitations in any truck accident case, you should also not make yourself so incredibly rushed that you file a claim or lawsuit before you have the full evidence.

When you seek financial compensation, you need to prove the allegations and facts that will show that you deserve payment for your injuries. Although you may obtain some evidence in discovery if your case goes to court, you must still have enough of a viable claim or complaint that you survive any motion to dismiss.

Before you can file a truck accident case, your attorney needs to perform a full investigation of the accident. Truck accidents require more extensive investigation than other motor vehicle crashes because there are many more causes.

Not only is an attorney looking at what the drivers did before the accident, but they are also seeking evidence about how the trucking company operates. If you find evidence that there is a widespread culture in which the trucking company violates federal law, you may be entitled to even more in damages.

Before You File the Claim, You Must Know the Cause

Truck accident cases have the added element of an extensive set of federal regulations that trucking companies and their drivers must follow. If you can prove that a trucker or trucking company violated any of these regulations, it will greatly strengthen your claim. It may even put you in a position to receive punitive damages if your case goes to trial.

The statute of limitations is not the only factor in your case. Some attorneys try to rush their clients into filing cases before they are ready because of the deadline. However, this can lead to missing some key evidence that may make the difference in your claim. Therefore, while you should keep an eye on the clock, you must also be patient and let your lawyer do their job investigating the truck accident.

Do not file a claim until you are fully ready to do so just because someone tells you that you need to meet a future deadline in the future. Nonetheless, you should start the process as soon as possible, in part for the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have someone experienced on your side.

Contact an Attorney to Begin the Legal Process

For you, the key is to call an attorney as soon as possible and let them begin their work. Any attorney will know the statute of limitations that applies to your claim and how to track it. The important thing is to take the responsibility off your shoulders. On your own, you may make a mistake that can keep you from receiving any financial compensation for your injuries. There is simply too much at stake in a truck accident not to get the help of an experienced lawyer.

The crucial thing to do is begin the legal process. Your attorney will work with you on a strategy to find the appropriate time to file your claim or lawsuit. Before that point, they have a lot of work to do to help you prepare.

Do Not Scramble Close to the Deadline

You do not want an attorney rushing to do the legwork for your case close to the deadline. If you choose to file an insurance claim, you also want some time to try to negotiate before you need to file a lawsuit. Nothing says you must file a claim or lawsuit days after your accident. However, your chances of success increase when you are patient and do not rush.

The one thing that will not delay you from hiring a truck accident attorney and getting started is money. You do not need to wait to come up with a retainer payment for an attorney.

A truck accident lawyer will work for you on a contingency basis. You only pay the lawyer if they help you win your case. In the meantime, they do not send you bills or ask you to pay money out of pocket. Your lawyer receives payment from the proceeds of your settlement only after you receive it. If you do not win your case, you do not have to pay your lawyer.

Never wait to start the claim process following your truck accident. Acting now can only help your situation.