We get this question a lot from our clients and potential clients here in Forney, Rockwall and Dallas. The question often boils down to “how long do I have to sue the other driver?”
The easy answer is two years. But, that is not the legal answer. The legal answer involves a review of a state statute and a little bit of case law. The limitations periods in Texas are set out in the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code. So, that is where we start.
Chapter 16 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code provides in pertinent part that a person must bring suit for personal injury not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues. Pretty simple, right? Almost. The statute does not say when the cause of action accrues, it only says that you have two years from the accrual date.
Well, what does accrual mean anyway? An accrual of a cause of action is simply a fancier way of saying “arises” or “comes into being”. So, in order to determine how much time a person who has been injured in an automobile or trucking accident, we need to know when a cause of action “arises” or “comes into being” for the purposes of the statutory periods. This is because in order to know the cut off date, we need to know when the clock actually starts. So, where do we have to look for that information now since it is not in the statute? Case law.
When Does a Cause of Action Accrue Under the Limitations Statute?
As said above, chapter 16 of the Civil Practice & Remedies Code does not answer the question of when a cause of action accrues. Since it is not in the statute, we have to look at case law. A fairly recent Supreme Court of Texas decision ends our inquiry. In Ashley v. Hawkins, the Supreme Court of Texas was deciding a motor vehicle accident involving an out of state party. The court explained that the accident occurred on May 31, 2003 and that the statute of limitations period would thereby run on May 31, 2005. (293 S.W.3d 175, 180). To use a little bit of logical reasoning here, that means that the cause of action accrued on May 31, 2003, which was the date of the accident. What complicated the issue in Ashley was that the defendant was out of state, which created a question of whether the statute of limitations was tolled, or paused, due to the defendants absence from the state. That issue is beyond the scope of this article.
So, as a summary, in Texas, there is a two-year statute of limitations period on personal injury accident claims and the statute of limitations period begins to run as of the date of the accident.
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If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, give us a call at (972) 564-4644. The longer you wait, the less time you have to bring your claims against the person who hurt you. Don’t take the fall for someone else’s negligence. We make bad driver’s pay!
About Our Firm:
Guest and Gray, P.C. is an experienced litigation team serving all North Texas counties. We are the largest and highest rated law firm in Rockwall and Kaufman County. We regularly pursue and defend various civil litigation claims and personal injury claims. Our practice is quickly growing with offices now located in Dallas, Rockwall and our main office in Forney, Texas to provide convenience to our clients. We are longtime faces in our community and we love what we do. We seek to provide an air of calm and confidence for our clients during a difficult time. We believe that makes us a little bit different from everybody else, and we like it that way.
For more information, or if you are seeking legal advice, give us a call at (972) 564-4644