In our legal system, all lawsuits are governed by something called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a law that determines the maximum amount of time you can wait to sue another person. It can vary from state to state. For car accident cases in Texas, you are usually going to have two years from the date of the accident to sue the other driver. Many drivers do not know this, and it can hurt their case. So you have made a smart choice in educating yourself by reading this article!
While two years may seem like plenty of time to negotiate a settlement with the insurance adjuster, I often get calls from injured people who have waited too long to contact a lawyer to file their lawsuit and now can no longer get compensation for their injuries.
Here are some common ways your settlement can be delayed beyond two years and thus barred due to the running of the statute of limitations:
Insurance Adjuster Refuses to Settle
This is the most common and obvious reason. The insurance adjusters are trained in several different strategies for delaying settlement. Additionally, the adjuster knows if he can keep you on the hook long enough to pass the statute of limitations, then he does not have to pay you anything for your claim.
You Wait Too Long to Contact an Attorney
Maybe it is not yet two years since the date of the accident. Maybe you even know about the statute of limitations and have kept that date in mind while negotiating with insurance. Now, the SOL is still a month away and you have decided it is time to start calling attorneys. Unfortunately, it turns out that there are a LOT of attorneys that will not accept a case that is close to the end of the SOL. The reasons for this are for another article, but just know that a large number of personal injury attorneys will not accept a case that is within even SIX months of the SOL. Honestly, if it has been over a year and you still have not settled your case, there is little reason to delay picking up the phone to find an attorney to help represent you.
You Are Still In Treatment
Maybe your therapy is still ongoing, and you do not want to settle on a final figure until you know how much everything is going to cost. This is understandable. No one wants to have to pay for any medical treatment out of their own pocket for injuries caused by another’s carelessness. If two years passes, however, it does not matter that you are still receiving medical attention for injuries caused by the accident. Your right to sue is gone and you will end up having to pay for all of your medical treatment.
Your Lawyer Drops the Ball
You have done the right thing and contacted a lawyer. He has assured you your case is in good hands, and he will handle everything. The two-year limitations period is quickly approaching, and you still have not heard anything from your lawyer about settling the case or filing a lawsuit. Unfortunately, just like any other profession, lawyers can make mistakes and blow deadlines. Just because you have hired a lawyer does not mean you should stop monitoring your case and making sure your attorney files a lawsuit before the SOL ends. If a lawyer does miss your SOL, you will most likely have a lawsuit against them for malpractice. If they are uninsured or underinsured compared to the value of your case, however, you could get a lot less money than if the deadline was not missed. Always, always, always remember the statute of limitations for your case and make sure your attorney files a lawsuit prior to that date.
– In Texas, the statute of limitations is usually two years.
– If you wait longer than the statute of limitations, you lose the right to sue and will recover ZERO dollars for your injuries.
– If you have not settled your case within a year of the accident, we advise you to contact an attorney for a free consultation.