Time Limit for Filing a Truck Accident Claim

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, 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.

Here is a list of each state and its statute of limitations:

  • Alabama – 2 years
  • Alaska – 2 years
  • Arizona – 2 years
  • Arkansas – 3 years
  • California – 2 years
  • Colorado – 2 years
  • Connecticut – 3 years
  • Delaware – 2 years
  • Florida – 4 years
  • Georgia – 2 years
  • Hawaii – 2 years
  • Idaho – 2 years
  • Illinois – 2 years
  • Indiana – 2 years
  • Iowa – 2 years
  • Kansas – 2 years
  • Kentucky – 1 year
  • Louisiana – 1 year
  • Maine – 6 years
  • Maryland – 3 years
  • Massachusetts – 3 years
  • Michigan – 3 years
  • Minnesota – 6 years
  • Mississippi – 3 years
  • Missouri – 5 years
  • Montana – 3 years
  • Nebraska – 4 years
  • Nevada – 2 years
  • New Hampshire – 3 years
  • New Jersey – 2 years
  • New Mexico – 3 years
  • New York – 3 years
  • North Carolina – 3 years
  • North Dakota – 6 years; 2 years in wrongful death
  • Ohio – 2 years
  • Oklahoma – 2 years
  • Oregon – 10 years
  • Pennsylvania – 2 years
  • Rhode Island – 3 years
  • South Carolina – 3 years
  • South Dakota – 3 years
  • Tennessee – 1 year
  • Texas – 2 years
  • Utah – 4 years
  • Vermont – 3 years
  • Virginia – 2 years
  • Washington – 3 years
  • West Virginia – 2 years
  • Wisconsin – 3 years
  • Wyoming – 4 years

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 so your lawyer can perform timely truck accident investigation and discovery, gathering evidence. 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 make it easier to locate anyone who witnessed 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.

When to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer

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Why You Need to Move Quickly

Beyond the SOL, making a timely claim is critical to your case’s investigation. One of the most important tasks the law firm you hire will do is the accident investigation and discovery. Your law firm will hire trained experts to reconstruct the accident to determine how it happened and who was at fault. They will examine the vehicle and collect evidence that may show any defects or parts that were not properly maintained. They will take witness statements and review police evidence. You could miss out on the following if you wait too long to file:

  • Credible witness testimony
  • Evidence stored by truck companies
  • Previous driving and accident reports
  • Validation of your injuries or medical condition

Collecting Valuable Evidence

In addition to examining the scene of the accident, your lawyers will review employee files, maintenance records, and driver logbooks to search for negligent or reckless conduct. All of this is critical to determining liability and the accurate value of your case. The sooner you begin to compile a case, the more information you will have available. If you wait too long, important information and potential evidence could be lost, forgotten, or destroyed.

For example, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require truck drivers to keep daily logs. This information can establish whether the trucker has complied with the maximum driving times. Once they submit these log books to their trucking company, the company is only required to maintain them for six months. That means this information could be thrown out if you wait too long to file a claim and obtain copies of log entries.

Ensuring You Have Accurate Accident Logs

Another useful source of evidence is the electronic on-board recorder or the "black box," which stores data about the truck's speed and brake application at the time of a crash. However, these computers record information in loops that erase information after a certain number of miles. You need to act quickly to preserve it!

Collecting Useful & Accurate Testimony

An individual who has been hit by a truck driver will need to report the incident immediately to the police or a local authority. The longer a person waits, the less clear the incident will become, possibly losing some of the most important information. Nearby witnesses will be able to give an accurate account of the event if approached soon after the accident. A witness may forget about the events or another version of the incident may cloud their memory. Their recollection of an accident a few days or weeks later will be more valuable than a year-old memory.

Validating Your Injuries & Medical Treatment

Your first priority is getting medical care. Treating your injuries early makes it more likely that you'll be able to fully recover. Getting medical care soon after the accident also provides a more accurate picture of how the accident affected you physically, neurologically, and psychologically. This helps your attorneys build a clearer case.

Act Now: Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers at (888) 493-1629

Don't let a delay cost you a chance to receive fair compensation. The sooner you contact a proven truck accident attorney, the quicker an investigation into your claim can be started and a lawsuit filed. Your free consultation with our team at Arnold & Itkin LLP is 100% free and confidential. Our attorneys have been representing injured clients for years and have secured billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on their behalf.

We are ready to help you file a claim. Contact us to discuss your case with our trucking accident lawyers.

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