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02/07/2022

For most accident victims, the priority after an accident is recovering. In addition, they may attempt to get some compensation for the injuries they've suffered. Unfortunately, personal injury victims don't have all the time in the world to prepare and file a personal injury lawsuit. So when is the best time and how do you prevent missing the window to sue? Our Houston personal injury lawyers at Calhoun Meredith answer some of your questions in this article.

Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Most people could go their entire lives without filing a personal injury lawsuit because they don't understand what steps to take. This section outlines the process of commencing this legal action.

Consult an Attorney

As soon as you decide to file a lawsuit, you should consult a personal injury attorney. A lawyer can help you understand the process and get a reasonable settlement. While going into this meeting, you should have information that shows the extent of your injury, how it has affected you, and the medical bills you have paid.

Take pictures of the accident scene to support your case. Do not leave any detail out, as you never know what information will be valuable. For example, if you are involved in an auto accident, the fault party's insurance company may not be the only people you can sue. For example, if the other party was driving under the influence, you may be able to go after a restaurant that served the fault party alcohol.

Investigate the Claim

After providing your auto accident attorney with the necessary information, they will investigate your claim. They'll collect statements from witnesses, speak to experts, and examine the evidence. Again, the purpose is to build a strong case.

Request Compensation

By this time, your attorney has gotten a good grasp of your case and decided on the best course of action. The next step is to file a claim for compensation with the appropriate insurance companies. This is not always a straightforward case so expect it to take some time.

Negotiation

Most insurance companies will make an offer to you, but it may not reflect the full value of your case. Go over the offer with your attorney and benchmark it against the cost of your injuries to determine if you would like to accept it.

Court

If you cannot reach an agreement, you have to go to court. This involves several phases, including the discovery phase, mediation, trial, and sometimes appeals. This section of the lawsuit could take a while, and you can ask your lawyer for the estimated time to help you prepare.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries in Texas?

The Statute of Limitations is a legal principle that maps out a period of time in which lawsuits are valid. The law varies depending on the case and starts counting from the day the accident occurs. Regardless, what they all have in common is that lawsuits cannot be filed after the Statute of Limitations expires. 

According to Texas law, the Statute of Limitations for personal injuries is two years. Therefore, two years after an accident or injury caused by someone else, you will be unable to file a personal injury lawsuit. This law exists to protect defendants from unnecessary litigation.

For example, some evidence that could be used to exonerate the defendant could be lost as time goes on. Furthermore, with a lot of the evidence often relying on an individual's account of events, their testimony could be altered as time goes by. Finally, a Statute of Limitations ensures that defendants are not harassed with lawsuits. 

Like most laws, there are exceptions and variations to this rule. For example, if a government employee or agency caused your injury, the Statute of Limitations is six months. In addition, you cannot just file a lawsuit against the government.

Instead, you'd have to file a report with the agency you believe is responsible for your injury with a summary of what transpired. Where your injury involves a defective product, the Statute of Limitations is 15 years from when the product was purchased.

There are other situations in which exceptions are given for this law. One is in a case where the defendant’s guilt could not have been discovered within the two years. For example, an exception could be made if the defendant committed fraud.

Where the defendant is a minor, the Statute of Limitations only begins to run after they turn 18. Finally, the law can be extended if the defendant leaves the state before the plaintiff can commence legal proceedings.

You must file your personal injury lawsuit on time. Texas courts are strict in enforcing the Statute of Limitations, and the defendant could move for your case to be dismissed unless you have a legitimate reason for not filing early. 

How Soon Should You File a Personal Injury Claim?

It is evident that you need to file your personal injury lawsuit as soon as possible to improve your chances of receiving adequate compensation. However, you may wonder how long you need to wait before doing that. This section deals with that.

The first thing to remember is that there is no specific date for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury cases are rarely the same, so it is difficult to specify a time to file a lawsuit as long as you're within the two-year window. However, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury attorney will examine the facts of your case to determine the best time to file a lawsuit.

When deciding when to file a personal injury lawsuit, something to consider is the finality of any agreement reached. As soon as a court has awarded damages or you have accepted an offer made by the insurance company, it is difficult, if not impossible, to reverse it. 

So why is it important? Most people file personal injury lawsuits to get compensated for the injuries suffered. They could also get paid for other financial losses or property damage. However, the most significant damage is for wounds suffered.

Not all injuries show up immediately. Some only show up weeks or months later. As a result, you can hastily file a lawsuit and receive compensation only to discover new wounds later. Sadly, you cannot file a new lawsuit and have to pay for your medical treatment out of pocket.

Therefore, you mustn't start settlement talks until you know what you're dealing with. Note that while the Statute of Limitations exists, your case does not have to be concluded within two years. It could take longer or shorter, but you must file your lawsuit on time.

Hire Knowledgeable Personal Injury Lawyers To Represent You

Many factors affect the outcome of your personal injury lawsuit. This includes determining fault and the cost of litigation. However, one of the most significant is the lawyer that represents you. 

Not every lawyer is qualified to handle personal injury cases. Some lawyers are general practitioners and manage a wide range of cases. Consequently, they may not have the experience or track record required to represent personal injury victims adequately. 

The Texas personal injury attorneys at Calhoun Meredith combine their experience and knowledge to ensure clients get fair compensation. In addition, we offer free consultations to enable prospective clients to decide. So give us a call today.

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