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Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer: How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?

by | Oct 5, 2021 | Injuries |

While injuries are a natural part of life, when they’re the result of negligence or willful ignorance of the law, compensation is called for. Not only does this compensation right the wrong that was committed, but it helps prevent other people from suffering the same fate. If you’ve been injured in Houston, Texas, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer to find out if your case is worth pursuing.

When it comes to personal injury suits, time is of the essence. While we always encourage people to reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible, many do not do so immediately. If you haven’t responded right away to the situation, how much time do you have left? What steps should you take to build your case? We’ll look at all of that and more.

Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston, Texas: How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?

What Qualifies as a Personal Injury?

To begin, it helps to define personal injury and examine the cases in which a lawsuit could be considered. From a legal perspective, a personal injury is an event that causes bodily harm such that significant pain and suffering have occurred. Medical intervention is not automatically a guarantee or disqualifier of personal injury lawsuits. However, generally speaking, most cases do involve a visit to a doctor’s office or hospital. In sum, a personal injury needs to have an injury.

The other part of the equation is whether the injury was your fault or that of another party. Naturally, if you caused the injury through your own actions, then you would not be entitled to any compensation for your injuries. However, if another party was at fault, either through negligence or malicious action, then you may be able to seek compensation in court. With that said, what specific types of injuries are you able to sue for?

Workplace Injuries

Injuries that occur while you are at work or performing duties for your employer away from the job site can be considered workplace injuries. Driving to and from work to start or finish your day does not, however. Regardless of how the injury occurs, workplaces face stricter regulations that call for additional caution from your employer.

For example, workers must be informed of potential injury risks on the job. Failure to communicate a hazard could be a sign of negligence on the part of your employer. Depending on the nature of the business, additional security protocols may need to be followed. A lack of adherence could also lead to fines for your employer in such cases and even add to the damages you’re eligible to receive.

Premises Liability Injuries

Premises liability refers to situations where you are injured on or by someone else’s property. The classic example of this is the “slip and fall” accident. However, it could also be because of an unexpected situation at the property. For example, a neighbor’s dog could rush out into the street and bite you. Perhaps a poorly maintained awning collapses while you’re under it or an unsafe area of the property was left open and unmarked.

Any of these situations could qualify for a personal injury lawsuit. This is especially true when the property in question belongs to a business where there is a reasonable expectation that people will come and visit. When it comes to private residences, simply being on someone’s property does not count as trespassing. Laws allow solicitors and salespeople to visit residences, and visitors are entitled to a reasonable expectation of safety.

Vehicular Accidents

Lawsuits following automobile crashes that result in injury or even wrongful death are frequently taken to court for civil damages. Since Texas is a fault state, you may be awarded damages if you were not found to be at fault for the accident. As in many of the other cases we’ve mentioned, insurance companies will likely be involved prior to going to court.

Houston drivers in must hold an active insurance policy that covers bodily injury. Should your injuries exceed the amount a driver’s insurance is able to cover, you may need to pursue your case in court. Alternatively, you may not agree with the amount the insurance company awards you as compensation. Insurers are, after all, biased towards their own interests. Court is the one place where a value can be fairly determined.

The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries in Texas

If any of the previous situations have happened to you recently, how long do you have to file a claim? Civil suits related to personal injuries generally have a statute of limitations of two years, for several reasons. First, you need to present a well-documented case to the court to have a chance of winning. If you wait years to file a claim, you will probably be missing important documents you should have kept from the beginning of the process.

Another important reason is the perception of the jury. Were your injuries really serious enough to merit a lawsuit if you were able to ignore them for years? That’s the mindset of the average juror. However, consider the alternative. Presenting your case immediately lets the jury know your injuries inflicted serious harm and you sought justice right away. So, what kind of case should you present?

How to React After a Personal Injury

The case is everything. A solid case contains a plethora of evidence to show that you were wronged by someone else’s actions or lack thereof. The golden standard is video evidence of the moments leading up to the injury and through its completion. Ask nearby people if they were recording or if they saw what happened to get their testimony. Look for security cameras in the area that could shed light on your case.

Of course, your health is priority number one, so you should absolutely retain medical records and seek medical attention immediately if you believe you are injured. These first steps can dramatically impact the way the case develops later on.

What if Time Has Passed After My Injury?

If some weeks or months have passed since the incident, you may still pursue your case. The reason we’re afforded two years to file a claim is precisely because many people are unaware that they even could receive a settlement in their favor. Furthermore, many people are afraid to file a suit because it could damage valuable relationships.

If your injury occurred within the statute of limitations, and you believe it was caused by someone else’s negligence, and it caused you significant bodily harm or medical bills, then you have the right to sue. Some might say you have the duty. But there are many things you won’t be able to do on your own.

Reach Out to a Personal Injury Lawyer

An experienced personal injury lawyer will ensure you get the best representation possible. Lawyers can open doors that you may not be able to alone. For instance, a lawyer can request a subpoena for evidence relevant to your case. Likewise, lawyers know the system and what documents you’ll need to present. If you’ve been hurt recently and wish to speak to an experienced lawyer, call Gamez Law Firm in Houston, Texas. At our firm, you’re the priority.