If you or a member of your family has been hurt in an auto or truck wreck, there are many steps to take before your damages are paid. To make this process even harder, there are strict filing deadlines. If you take too long to jump over the hurdles, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will not offer you any payment. If you file a lawsuit, its attorneys will have your suit dismissed. This blog examines how long you have to settle or file suit over your car accident in Fort Worth, what is meant by the statute of limitations, and why you should hire the best personal injury lawyer you can.
Subject to several exceptions, you must file a lawsuit for a Fort Worth car accident within two years from the date of your injury. That is called the statute of limitations. You have up to two years to treat with your doctors, then have time to see if you can successfully settle your claim outside of a courtroom. If it is apparent that the case will not settle for fair value, you can and should file a lawsuit well before then, and in some cases, you should file suit immediately.
This is when the statute of limitations can be extended:
1. If a child is injured, the statute is tolled (postponed) until they are 18. They will have two years to file a lawsuit after that. However their parents can settle their claim or file suit on their behalf before that date.
2. If the negligent driver leaves Texas and your attorney cannot locate them to serve them with legal papers, the statute of limitations is paused until they return to Texas.
3. If the at-fault driver dies, the statute is paused for one year or until an estate representative is appointed.
4. People who are mentally deficient have additional time until they regain their faculties.
5. Notice to a responsible local, city, or state unit of government must also be given under the Texas Tort Claims Act. For example, a police officer or ambulance driver may have crashed into your vehicle. The deadline to give notice is six months, but some cities and local government entities have reduced this period. Claims against the City of Houston have to be filed within three months, for example. The notice must describe when and how the damage happened, identity the parties, and list the injury suffered.
How Long Does It Usually Take to Settle a Claim?
The exact amount of time will vary depending on the circumstances of your collision, the extent of your injuries, the amount of your monetary damages, and other factors. It could take months or even up to two years. Injuries and car accident cases can be slow to resolve. Each one is different. You should ask your attorney how long it might take based on their experience with past cases like yours.
Your auto accident lawyer will obtain all required evidence. It is vital to obtain the police report, photographs of the scene and all vehicles involved, videos of the scene from area cameras, witness statements, damage estimates, reconstruction, and other proof of the other driver’s liability. The attorney and their staff will order your medical records and bills, lost wage information, and other key documents proving how much money you are entitled to receive.
If the other driver’s insurance company calls you, you should not talk to its representatives before you get advice from a car wreck lawyer. Their first call or meeting is free. If you feel like you must speak to the insurance company on your own, restrict the conversation to the damage to your car or truck.
If you need help paying for your medical care, your attorney will help you in important ways. You may already have purchased coverage that will pay for your doctors and not know or understand how this process works. Your attorney works with a network of doctors, diagnostic providers, and physical therapists who will agree to treat you now and get paid later. They will coordinate with your health insurance company and other sources of payment, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
Remember that a personal injury attorney will not charge you unless and until they recover money for you. If he or she takes on your case, they believe they can get you paid a fair amount of money. You can ask them how much of a settlement to expect based on past case results. The money you receive is free of any federal or state income, sales, or payroll taxes.
Two years is the maximum time you have but waiting several weeks can be a huge mistake that can cost you a lot of money. The sooner you start, the better. The insurance company may have already started investigating the facts to show that their driver was not at fault or that you were partially to blame which reduces the amount of money it is obligated to pay.
You will get a larger settlement amount from available insurance companies or a better verdict from a judge and jury if you hire an aggressive personal injury lawyer.
If you were injured in a car, truck, 18-wheeler, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident and need legal help, we are here to help you. When we are hired, we start working immediately. We get critical evidence and guide you through a complicated process.
Berenson Injury Law has been representing thousands of injured Texans for over 40 years. Call us at 817-885-8000 or get in touch on our website.