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When is it Too Late to Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident? and What Can I

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When Is It Too Late To Get A Lawyer For A Car Accident?When Is It Too Late To Get A Lawyer For A Car Accident?

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Many car accident victims believe that if they do not hire a lawyer right away, then they have to go through the claims process alone. Even if you have been through months of failed insurance negotiations, an attorney will most likely be able to assist you.

If you have been in a car accident, it is imperative to speak with an attorney right away. TK Injury Lawyers would like to provide an overview of the claims process and situations in which it may be challenging to file a claim.

Barriers to Filing a Claim

There are situations that may prevent you from filing a claim, such as:

The statute of limitations has passed

In every lawsuit, there is a certain amount of time in which a claim must be filed, known as a statute of limitations.

For car accident lawsuits, the statute of limitations is two years. Legislation passed this law in order to ensure that key evidence would be preserved. After a certain amount of time, witnesses will not remember events as clearly, and DNA evidence will fade.

You accepted a settlement offer and signed a waiver liability release

Your claim is considered fully resolved once you accept a settlement offer with the insurance company. You will then sign a waiver releasing the other party from liability.

If you accept a settlement offer, then you forgo your rights to take your case to court.

Even if these two situations apply to you, you may still have legal options. It is always best to consult a car accident lawyer to find out if any legal remedies are available.

Signs To Consider Taking Your Case to Court

It may be time to take your case to court if you have been experiencing the following:

  • The insurance company has denied your claim
  • The insurance company is offering an unfair settlement amount
  • Your medical expenses and vehicle damage exceed the other driver’s policy limits

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?

A car accident lawyer knows what evidence is relevant in building your case. A lawyer will gather witness testimony, photographs, and video surveillance to show the other driver’s liability.

Save all your medical records and documentation of missed time from work. This will be important evidence to help you in collecting damages.

Along with preparing supporting documentation for the at-fault driver’s insurance company, a lawyer will help you draft a demand letter.

A demand letter should contain the following components:

  • Establish facts: a demand letter should include all pertinent (relevant) facts about the car accident. This will include injuries and medical treatment.
  • Detail injuries and medical treatment
  • Describe the insured’s negligence: explain how the other driver was negligent, causing the accident.
  • Categorize damages: in a car accident or any type of personal injury case, the demand letter should include economic damages (medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitative equipment) and other non-economic costs (pain and suffering, loss of society and companionship, and emotional distress).
  • Make a demand: In a car accident case, how much do you want the insurance company to pay you?
  • Set a deadline: give the insurance company a reasonable and specific date to respond by.
  • Offer a consequence: a quality demand letter should offer a consequence if they do not comply. For instance, stating that if the insurer fails to accept your settlement offer, then you will be forced to take your case to court, in which you will demand a higher settlement.

In Texas, an insurance carrier has 15 calendar days to acknowledge receipt of your claim. Within 15 days of receiving all requested information, the insurer must approve or deny your claim.

Texas law allows an insurer to extend the period to up to 45 days if they need additional information. If your claim is approved, the insurance company must pay you within five business days.

You are entitled to collect 18% annual interest and attorneys’ fees in addition to the original claim amount if an insurer does not comply.

What Can I Do if It’s Too Late to File a Car Accident Claim?

If you believe it is too late to file a car accident claim, there are still a few steps you can take depending on your specific situation. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Review the statute of limitations: The statute of limitations sets a time limit within which a legal action must be initiated. The time limit for filing a car accident claim varies by jurisdiction. Research the laws in your area to determine if the deadline has passed. If it hasn’t, you may still have time to file a claim.
  2. Consult an attorney: Contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in car accidents. Even if you think it may be too late, an attorney can provide accurate legal advice based on your specific circumstances. They can review the details of your case, assess the statute of limitations, and guide you on the best course of action.
  3. Explore extenuating circumstances: In some situations, there may be exceptions to the statute of limitations. Certain factors like the delayed discovery of injuries, mental incapacity, or fraud by the other party involved in the accident could potentially extend the filing period. Discuss these possibilities with your attorney.
  4. Notify your insurance company: Regardless of the statute of limitations, it’s essential to inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. They may have their own time limits for reporting claims, and failure to notify them promptly could result in a denial of coverage.
  5. Consider alternative resolutions: If it truly is too late to file a formal claim, you can explore alternative methods of resolution. For example, you could try negotiating a settlement with the other party involved, if they are willing. Keep in mind that without the formal legal process, your options may be limited.

Remember, these suggestions are general in nature, and the specific steps you should take depend on the laws in your jurisdiction and the circumstances of your case. Consulting with a qualified car accident lawyer is crucial to understanding your rights and options in such situations.

Dangers of Waiting to Get a Car Accident Lawyer

Hiring a car accident attorney benefits your claim; however, a delay can cost you money.

Legal Timelines

The statute of limitations is the maximum time to initiate legal action after an accident. The statute of limitation for personal injury cases in Texas is two years. You have up to two years to file a personal injury claim after a car accident.

If you fail to initiate a lawsuit within the period, you will lose your right to compensation for the incident. That’s why it is beneficial to be aware of the statute of limitations and take necessary steps, including making a timely decision to hire a car accident attorney.

Compensation for Delayed Injuries

There are three situations where the law allows for an extension of the statute of limitations, including:

  • A car accident victim is younger than 18 years old— the two-year period will only start to count after the victim turns 18 or becomes mentally stable.
  • If the person who caused the injury leaves Texas, the two-year countdown stops until they return.
  • If the injury victim didn’t know they had a potential personal injury claim, the statute of limitation may become extended. The countdown only begins after the victim becomes aware of their injury or knows the other party is at fault.

Common Delayed Injuries that Might Extend the Statute of Limitations

When it comes to personal injury cases, many people assume that the symptoms of an injury will manifest immediately after an accident. However, this is not always the case. In some situations, injuries may have delayed symptoms that could significantly impact the statute of limitations for filing a claim. Understanding these delayed injuries is crucial for injury victims in Austin who want to protect their rights and seek the compensation they deserve.

One common delayed injury is whiplash, which often occurs in motor vehicle accidents. Whiplash happens when the head and neck are forcefully jerked back and forth, causing strain on the muscles and ligaments. In some cases, the symptoms of whiplash may not appear until hours, or even days, after the accident. These symptoms can include neck pain and stiffness, headaches, dizziness, and even cognitive difficulties. Since the symptoms of whiplash may take time to manifest, injury victims may not realize the severity of their condition right away. This delay could potentially extend the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim.

Another delayed injury that can impact the statute of limitations is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs can occur in various accidents, such as slip and falls or sports-related incidents. While some symptoms of a TBI, like confusion and memory loss, may be apparent immediately after the accident, other symptoms may have a delayed onset. These delayed symptoms can include mood changes, difficulty concentrating, and even personality alterations.

Recognizing the connection between these symptoms and the accident that caused them is essential for injury victims who may need to file a personal injury claim before the statute of limitations expires.

A Car Accident Lawyer is Here for You

A car accident claim is a daunting process, and many car accident victims avoid contacting an attorney for fear of spending more on legal fees. In the long run, contacting an attorney during the process will save you money and headaches.

Learn why we are a trusted firm in Austin, Texas. Contact an Austin car accident lawyer at TK Injury Lawyers today to schedule your free consultation.

Trent Kelly

Trent Kelly obtained his law degree from the University of Arkansas in 2007. He is licensed to practice law in Texas and regularly assists clients with their legal matters. Trent’s practice is primarily focused on personal injury matters – particularly those involving motor vehicles (such as cars, commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, and motorcycles) and wrongful death – but he also handles various business litigation matters as well. Click here to take a look at some complex cases Trent has resolved.

Years of experience: +15 years
Location: Austin, TX