There’s usually a limit to the time in which you can claim for injuries received in a car accident, meaning you have to act fast to get justice.
If you or someone you know has recently had a car accident in Texas, and you’re wondering if you or they can file a claim for injuries you or they received, the quick answer is, it depends. You’ll need to prove many aspects of your accident so that your claim is valid and stands a good chance of resulting in a compensation settlement — and you won’t have an endless amount of time to prepare everything and file your claim.
While it can be tempting to put off making a personal injury claim after a car accident — or not even think about it as you deal with the physical and psychological trauma of what happened to you — it’s not a good idea. You certainly have to prioritize your health and focus on your recovery, but — if an accident was not your fault — you also need justice and compensation for the injuries you received.
Under Texas law, you’re entitled to make a personal injury claim for an accident caused by someone else that injured you. It’s vital to get the process started as soon as possible, starting, if possible, moments after the accident. Later we will give the definitive answer to how long after a car accident you can claim for injury. But first, we’re going to look at how you arrive at making a successful claim within the permissible period.
Preparing a Personal Injury Claim After a Car Accident
We’ve mentioned starting the process of gathering evidence as soon as you can following a car accident that left you injured. If your injuries were severe and an ambulance immediately took you to the hospital, there won’t be anything you can do. You’ll have to rely on the initial police report outlining what they found at the scene and what happened. But if your injuries were minor and you didn’t need treatment in the hospital, you should start collecting evidence and proof straight away, as it will be vital in helping your case succeed. This evidence collection includes:
- Calling the police if they’re not already at the scene.
- Using your phone to take photographs of the accident scene and the vehicles involved from as many angles as possible so that insurance companies and possibly a court can get a clear picture of what happened.
- Using your phone to take a video of the accident and the vehicles involved in it.
- Talking to passersby at the accident scene or other motorists who may have stopped, asking them if they saw what happened and, if so, if they’d be willing to give a statement. Having witnesses to an accident is important evidence that can go a long way toward getting you a good compensation award. Make sure you get their full name and other details, including a contact phone number or email address. This includes the contact details of the driver and other people involved in the accident.
- Getting medical reports and other documentation following any treatment you’ve had for your injuries. These will detail what happened to you, a possible prognosis, what kind of medications you may be on, and how the injury has impacted your life. It may also be necessary to have a psychiatric evaluation if you suffer from mental trauma after the accident. These reports combined will strengthen your personal injury case and give you and your personal injury lawyers the best chance of getting the maximum compensation for you.
- Obtaining a letter from your employer — if you’re employed but unable to work because of your injuries — saying you cannot work and how much wages you’re missing out on. You can use this letter as proof of loss of earnings, and your compensation award may be higher as a result.
If you cannot gather evidence for your claim, either because of the extent of your injuries or because you’re not sure how to, you can hire an expert car accident injury lawyer who will do much if not all of the work for you. This will remove a lot of the stress of this process from you and allow you to relax and get well.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Another aspect of the aftermath of a car accident that wasn’t your fault and left you injured is entering into negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The insurance company will want to see all the evidence we’ve outlined above, and if they get a hint you may have contributed to the accident in some way, they will try not to pay compensation. If it’s proven without doubt that you were not at fault in the accident, the insurance company may make you an initial offer of financial compensation for your injuries.
It might be tempting to take this and resolve the matter so you can get on with your life, but it’s not advised. The insurance company will want to make the lowest possible offer — because they’re a business and don’t want to lose money. They will hope you’re so tired of the process already that you’ll just want it all to go away, and so you’ll take the offer. But it’s possible you could get a lot more. Again, this is why it’s important you have a skilled car accidents lawyer by your side.
A car accident injury lawyer will know how to deal with insurance companies and their attempts to either not pay compensation or make offers that are low and not really based on the extent of injuries. They can collect and present the evidence to the insurance company and negotiate with them to get the maximum compensation possible in your case. An experienced car accidents lawyer won’t back down at the first hurdle or take the first offer; they will stand up for you and your rights and get you real justice and a settlement you might not otherwise receive.
So How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim for Your Injury?
Not all states allow the same amount of time for you to claim personal injury following a car accident. In Texas, it’s two years from the date it happened, while in other states, it can be longer — the law in South Carolina, for instance, gives claimants three years. In some instances in Texas — which are relatively rare — it may be possible to extend the filing deadline.
If, for some reason, you couldn’t immediately make a personal injury claim in Texas for injuries received in a car accident — perhaps due to a long recuperation period or if you were a minor, or under 18, at the time of the accident — and you later try to make a claim, the other party might file a motion to dismiss it in court that could result in the end of your claim. That’s unless you have personal injury lawyers experienced in handling car accident cases in court who can plead your case and explain why you went beyond the filing deadline of two years.
Most cases of car accident claims in Texas fall under the two-year rule, however, meaning there’s no time to delay or to hire a car accident injury lawyer to give you the best chance of success.