Yes. Generally speaking, a statute of limitations for the claims of a minor does not begin to run until they turn the age of majority which is 18 in Texas. So from that date of 18 years old, you have two years for the minors’ claims to be filed if a lawsuit is necessary. However, you don’t want to rely upon that too heavily because it may surprise you that parts of the claim that arises out of a normal auto collision don’t really belong to the minor but are the right and the responsibility of the parents. For example, the medical expenses that are incurred by a minor are the parents’ responsibility and therefore they are the ones entitled to make a claim.
So if you have a 12-year old child and medical expenses, the parent has to make the claim to recover the medical expenses within two years of the date of the wreck because the two-year statute of limitations applies to the parents claim. The minor’s claim which is more for personal things like pain and suffering and impairment, the clock doesn’t start ticking until the minor turns 18. It’s a very confusing area of the law and the safer bet is to go ahead and just use the general two years from the date of the loss in order to protect everyone’s rights.
What Steps Does Someone Need To Take After Being Involved In An Auto Collision?
The more information you’re able to gather at the scene, the better. Obviously, if there are eyewitnesses that can be identified and get contact information, that would be great. Follow the police and most importantly ask the police to do a report. Often, officers are reluctant to do crash reports following a collision based upon frankly their misunderstanding of how the insurance system works. I’ve had officers tell me before they believe that if they don’t do a report that the insurance companies will just “work it out”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, the lack of a police report can make it very difficult to get a claim to resolve with an insurance company.
You have to keep in mind that the insurance company is likely to adopt their insured version of the incident and you have to do something to change their mind and that’s where the help of independent witnesses or a police report comes into play. The next thing is if hurt people go to the doctor, so you need to get medical care as soon as possible. Obviously if you’re hurt severely, you need to go on an ambulance and go to the emergency room but if possible, have a friend or a loved one get out to that scene and take photos as soon as possible, things like damaged auto parts that are in the street or skid marks, things like that can disappear rather quickly.
If it’s possible, get some photos taken, that’s helpful. But finally, go to the doctor, get the care that you need and listen to the doctor’s advice with regard to the nature and the duration of the treatment. They are the medical professionals and you need to use them.
Should I Notify My Own Insurance Of The Collision?
Yes, you should notify your own insurance company. That doesn’t always mean asking for them to set up a claim per se but you need to give them that option. You have a duty to cooperate with your own company under your own insurance policy. So ask them what they need you to do. You’re not technically required to notify the other driver’s insurance but if you’re wanting to make a claim and ultimately get paid on your claim, someone needs to start the process. What if the other driver doesn’t notify his insurance company? It’ll only add to the delay in getting the claim process started.
The downside of notifying the other party’s insurance company is they will likely want to take a recorded statement from you which we strongly advise against unless you have spoken to a lawyer.
How Does A Gap In Medical Treatment Impact An Auto Collision Claim?
In my experience, gaps in care are case killers. If you wait to go to the doctor, you better have a darn good reason. I thought I would be okay or I thought I could shake it off probably isn’t going to be a good reason. While the medical literature indicates that the worse symptoms from a sprain and strain type injury may not show up for 48 to 72 hours after a wreck, an average juror is going to be very suspicious of treatment that didn’t start several days to weeks later. Each injury has to be evaluated on its own. If you need neck surgery and you didn’t have symptoms of tingling or numbness in your arms for a few days or weeks, you’ll probably be okay with that claim.
If your complaint is more of a sprain and strain type of injury and you don’t get started on your treatment for a week or two, it’ll be more difficult to convince an adjuster and ultimately a jury that the injuries are significant and long-term. The final thing that you have to take into account is the severity of the collision itself. While there is no medical literature that links the amount of property damage to the severity of an injury in an auto collision, the reality of the courthouse is that jurors expect to see a lot of twisted metal and broken glass. If there is not a lot of damage to the vehicles, they are going to be even more suspect of a possible injury claim.
If you have very little damage to the vehicles involved and a gap in care from the time of the wreck until medical treatment starts, those are two very big hurdles that you’re going to have to jump in order to get a recovery.
For more information on Statute Of Limitations For Minors, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling today.