What is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Texas?
If you’ve experienced a car accident, you know it can feel like a whirlwind of important things suddenly need your immediate attention. This may include making sure everyone’s safe, exchanging insurance information—even towing your car or receiving medical treatment. When you have so much on your plate unexpectedly, it’s easy for things like paperwork to slip through the cracks.
Fortunately, if you’re in Texas, you may have some time to ensure your needs are covered. The statute of limitations Texas car accident cases typically fall under gives you up to two years to file a lawsuit against whoever caused your auto accident. However, the specifics can vary slightly depending on what type of harm occurred.
We’ll break down the details of the car accident statute of limitations in Texas, as well as cover why and how to file an insurance claim with a Texas car accident lawyer so that you can recover and move forward with your life as soon as possible.
Deadline to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Texas
If you’re in a car accident, you may want to take legal action against the person or company you believe caused your accident. However, in many cases, the car accident victim only has a certain window of time after an accident in which they can take legal action, known as the statute of limitations.
The Texas statute of limitations for legally addressing harm caused by car accidents can vary slightly depending on the type of harm caused.
Here are the three types of car accident statute of limitations Texas law lays out:
- Vehicle damage – If your vehicle sustains damage in an auto accident while in Texas, you have up to two years after the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit. After that, a judge could dismiss your lawsuit because the statute of limitations has passed. If you’re hoping to avoid a lawsuit and only plan to file a claim through your insurance provider instead, try to start that process early. That way, if it doesn’t pan out the way you hope, you still have legal options.
- Injuries – If you’re an injured car accident victim in Texas, you have up to two years after the date of your accident to file a legal claim. Once two years have passed, you can still try to file a lawsuit—but there’s a high risk a judge would dismiss your lawsuit because the statute of limitations has passed. So, if you think you may want to take legal action against whoever caused your accident, it helps to begin the process—or at least learn more about your legal options—as soon as possible.
- Death – If the unthinkable happens and you lose a family member in a car accident, you can file a Texas wrongful death lawsuit against the driver you believe caused the crash for up to two years after the victim’s death. That means that if someone died a week or a month after the car crash as a result of injuries sustained during their car accident, the two-year statute of limitations begins on the date of their death, not the date of the car accident. In rare cases where you don’t know the identity of the driver, you may be able to file a partially completed lawsuit with the information you do have about the accident. In those scenarios, the statute of limitations may be put on hold, or “tolled,” for a certain length of time to provide more time for the driver’s identity to be discovered.
These statutes of limitations apply in a car accident whether you’re hurt when you’re a driver, passenger, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian.
What Other Options Do You Have After a Car Accident in Texas?
There are several ways for you to potentially receive compensation to help you cover the costs incurred in a car accident.
Here are three important ones—and how they differ from each other:
- Claim – You can file a claim with your car insurance company after an accident. Your insurance company can then begin the process of determining what type of financial support you’re owed based on your policy and the specifics of your accident. You don’t need a lawyer to file an insurance claim, although some lawyers can help you better understand how to make the most out of your car insurance and health insurance.
- Demand letter – A demand letter is a formal written notice (usually written by a lawyer) sent to the person who caused your accident demanding they take specific action in light of the harm they caused you. When you’re choosing your legal team, you may want to clarify how quickly they can commit to filing a demand letter. For example, we’d recommend a legal team that commits to filing your demand letter within the first 60 days after they take you on as a client (unless you are continuing to receive medical treatment, in which case it may make sense to delay).
- Lawsuit – In cases where a demand letter won’t deliver the results you want, your lawyer can file a lawsuit against the person who caused your car accident injury. Again, we’d recommend asking for a clear timeline when evaluating your potential legal team so that you can choose a team whose priorities match yours.
In addition to knowing these basic terms, it can also help you navigate the system when you know some important qualities to look for when evaluating potential legal teams.
Should You Also File a Claim After a Car Accident?
If you are wondering what to do after a car accident in Texas, the first step is to make sure everyone is okay, and if not, take steps to help them receive emergency medical treatment. Once you’ve had a chance to take a deep breath and ensure everyone’s physical safety, we recommend exchanging insurance information with the other driver. After a car accident, it helps to report the accident to your insurance company and file a car accident claim with them as soon as possible.
Filing a claim with your car insurance company can help in several ways:
- If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, you can sign a car accident settlement to settle a personal injury claim and receive compensation. You can also get payments— known as insurance proceeds—that help reimburse you for some or all of the expenses you racked up as a result of the accident, including medical expenses and vehicle repair. Learn more about the average car accident settlement in Texas.
- If you are eligible to receive insurance proceeds, filing sooner means you could get your payment sooner
- Many people question, “Is Texas a no-fault state for car accidents?” The answer is no, meaning that if someone could argue you were at least partly responsible for the accident and you don’t file a claim with your car insurance company, you could potentially open yourself up to a lawsuit.
- If you took out an auto loan to purchase your car, the terms may require you to file a claim in the event of a car accident.
You don’t have to wait for an official decision about who caused the accident to file your claim—you can file it as soon as you have time to reach out to your car insurance company. You can file your claim by calling your insurance company or by filling out a form on their website or app.
How to Choose an Advocate for Your Legal Action
If you choose to move forward with taking legal action after your car accident, we recommend finding a trustworthy team that can both advocate for you and guide you through the process of recovering from a car accident injury.
When deciding which legal team to turn to, we recommend you look for:
- Lower legal fee rates – The standard legal fee for a personal injury lawyer comes to about 33.3%. If someone’s charging a higher rate than that, keep shopping. You’ll also find some companies like Mighty that offer fees 10% lower than the industry standard.
- A free case evaluation – You don’t want to spend time and money hiring a lawyer, only to find out legal action wouldn’t actually help you receive the results you’re looking for. Instead, look for a legal team that offers a free, straightforward, and clear case evaluation where you can learn more about what their process would look like for your case, and what results you can typically expect.
- Holistic advice and strategies – A car accident can complicate your life in more ways than one. A good legal team can handle your legal claim, but an excellent team can help you navigate the other ripple effects of car accidents. This may include helping you connect with local, convenient healthcare options, explaining how you can make the most of your car and health insurance, and connecting you with organizations that can assist you in the event of a housing or food crisis.
- Financial support options – Only about 50% of Americans have $1,000 in savings to carry them through an emergency like a car accident. Some legal teams can help you navigate potential financial support options like interest-free loans from family or friends, applying for grants and charitable gifts, or applying for and comparing rates on cash advances. A car accident can put a financial strain on anyone, but financial support can prove especially important if you have less in savings.
If you want a partner with all of these qualities, we think Mighty could be a strong fit for you.
Recover and Rebuild with Mighty
At Mighty, we offer the support you need to help you get your life back on track after an injury. We match you with a case manager and lawyer who can answer your questions and help you with everything from taking legal action, to navigating health and car insurance, to helping you access other resources that can meet your specific needs and help you get back on your feet.
We underpromise and overdeliver—because when you’re rebuilding, you deserve a partner you can trust.
Car and Driver. Do I Have to File a Claim After an Accident? Everything You Need to Know. https://www.caranddriver.com/car-insurance/a36166153/do-i-have-to-file-a-claim-after-an-accident/
Cornell Law School. Demand letter. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/demand_letter#:~:text=A%20demand%20letter%20is%20a,or%20cease%20a%20certain%20action.
Cornell Law School. Statute of limitations. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/statute_of_limitations
Nolo. What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Texas? https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-the-car-accident-statute-limitations-texas.html
Statues.Capitol.Texas.gov. CIVIL PRACTICE AND REMEDIES CODE. https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/CP/htm/CP.16.htm
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