What Is the Time Limit for Filing a Trucking Accident Lawsuit?
A tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler wreck can give rise to a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. This means the lawsuit will be subject to the statute of limitations, which requires a person to take legal action within a specified period or else the claim is barred. The point of having statute of limitations is to make sure that a person is not punished for a crime or accident committed long ago that is just recently coming to light. As time goes on, evidence diminishes as well, making it harder to come up with a verdict for a trucking accident.
Statute of Limitations in Each State
The statute of limitations varies across the country, as each state has different laws. A majority of states have implemented a two-year limitation on all wrongful death claims in truck accidents. For instance, in Texas, the statute of limitations for bodily injury claims related to a person's recklessness or negligence is two years from the date of injury (or the date when the injury could have been reasonably discovered). In some cases, this period may be "tolled" because the victim had a legal disability, including being a minor at the time of the accident. In general, if both parties agree on the matter, then the time allotted for filing an accident lawsuit may be shortened or lengthened.
The Importance of Collecting Evidence Early
To develop a strong case following a truck accident, it takes more than just filing within the statute of limitations. You need to begin your case quickly after the incident so that your lawyer can perform timely truck accident investigation and discovery, gathering as much evidence as possible. This may include identifying a defective part, determining if property maintenance occurred, and even assessing whether trucking regulations were violated. A timely response can also help find reliable witnesses who can provide an outside perspective on the accident.
It is important to act quickly to preserve evidence from the electronic on-board recorder, maintenance records, and driver logbooks, as these could be “lost” or destroyed as time passes.
Getting Medical Care Right Away
Not only does evidence from the scene of the accident help strengthen your case, but so does getting timely medical care. If you wait too long to see a doctor, it could be more difficult to validate that your injuries truly came from your truck accident. The insurance company may try to argue that your injuries developed after the accident if you do not get medical care immediately. Further, when you file under the statute of limitations, it can ensure that your medical treatment and other information can be used as evidence. Over time, a doctor’s memory of your injuries may fade, and their testimony may be less convincing. When you act sooner, all this evidence, as well as the validity of your claim, remains much stronger.
Why You Need to Act Now to Preserve Your Case
The bottom line is that you do not want to risk losing your right to compensation by failing to take timely action.
Even information and evidence like a failed or missed truck inspection—which could significantly help your claim—may be lost in a year or two. In almost all cases, it is better to report your accident sooner so that it can be determined if you should file a claim. When a truck accident claim is filed quickly, there is better chance of all the evidence coming to light and the trial moving along more efficiently. If you are wondering whether or not you have time to file a claim, reach out to a truck accident lawyer from Arnold & Itkin. We can help you understand your case.