If you have been injured in an accident, it is important that you file your personal injury claim as soon as possible. Evidence can disappear, wounds heal and memories can fade. The sooner that your personal injury lawyer can get started on your case, the stronger it will be. For that very reason many states, Texas included, has a statute of limitations when it comes to personal injury cases.
What is a statute of limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on how long a person has to file a lawsuit after an alleged offense has occurred. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that lawsuits are filed promptly, while evidence is still available and witnesses’ memories are still fresh. It also protects defendants from having to defend themselves against claims that are many years old.
There are different statutes of limitations for different types of offenses. For example, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is typically two years, while the statute of limitations for a breach of contract lawsuit is typically four years. The specific statute of limitations that applies to a particular case will depend on the law of the jurisdiction where the lawsuit is filed.
In some cases, the statute of limitations may be “tolled,” or suspended, for a period of time. This can happen if the plaintiff is unable to file a lawsuit due to circumstances beyond their control, such as if they are a minor or if they are mentally incapacitated.
If a lawsuit is filed after the statute of limitations has expired, the defendant can file a motion to dismiss the case. If the court grants the motion, the case will be dismissed and the plaintiff will not be able to pursue their claim.
Why do we have statute of limitations?
Here are some of the reasons why statutes of limitations exist:
- To encourage prompt filing of lawsuits. The longer a person waits to file a lawsuit, the more difficult it may be to gather evidence and find witnesses. Statutes of limitations encourage people to file lawsuits promptly, while the evidence is still fresh and the witnesses are still available.
- To protect defendants from stale claims. It is unfair to require a defendant to defend themselves against a claim that is many years old. Evidence may have been lost, witnesses may have died or moved away, and the defendant’s memory of the events may have faded. Statutes of limitations protect defendants from having to defend themselves against stale claims.
- To promote finality and certainty in the law. Statutes of limitations help to ensure that there is an end to litigation. Without statutes of limitations, people could be sued for events that happened many years ago, even if they have no memory of the events or no way to defend themselves.
Wrongful Death Time Limits to File a Claim
The statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits varies from state to state. In most states, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the death. However, there are some states that have longer or shorter statutes of limitations. For example, in California, the statute of limitations is three years, while in Louisiana, it is only one year. In Texas the statute is the standard 2 years from the date of death.
There are also some exceptions to the statute of limitations. For example, if the defendant is a government entity, the statute of limitations may be shorter. Additionally, if the plaintiff is a minor, the statute of limitations may be tolled, or suspended, until the minor reaches the age of majority.
If you are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you to determine the statute of limitations in your state and can also advise you on other legal issues related to your case.
How to file a personal injury lawsuit
Filing a personal injury lawsuit can be a complex process, and it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side to help you navigate the legal system and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Here is a general overview of the steps involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit:
Seek medical attention. If you have been injured in an accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. This will not only help you recover from your injuries, but it will also create a record of your injuries that can be used as evidence in your lawsuit.
Gather evidence. Once you have received medical attention, you should begin gathering evidence to support your claim. This may include photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, and medical records.
Contact an attorney. As soon as possible after your accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, and can also handle the complex legal process of filing a lawsuit.
File a complaint. The first step in filing a lawsuit is to file a complaint with the court. The complaint is a legal document that outlines your allegations against the defendant, as well as the damages you are seeking.
Serve the defendant. Once the complaint has been filed, you will need to have it served on the defendant. This means that the defendant will be given a copy of the complaint and will be notified of the lawsuit.
Discovery. After the defendant has been served, the discovery process will begin. This is a process in which both sides exchange information about the case. This may include exchanging documents, taking depositions, and submitting interrogatories.
Settlement negotiations. At any point during the lawsuit, the parties may try to settle the case out of court. This is often a preferable option, as it can save both sides time and money.
Trial. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will go to trial. At trial, both sides will present their evidence to a judge or jury, who will then decide the outcome of the case.
It is important to note that this is just a general overview of the process, and the specific steps involved in your case may vary depending on the facts of your case and the laws of your state. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand the specific steps involved in your case and can guide you through the process.