Limitations Periods In Texas For Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Grand Prairie, Arlington, Mansfield residents and residents of Dallas, Fort Worth, and Weatherford who have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage on their automobile insurance policy should fill good about a case decided by the Texas Supreme Court in 1974. The case is styled, Raul C. Franco et ux. v. Allstate Insurance Company.
The facts of this case are fairly short and simple. Raul C. Franco and his family (Franco) had uninsured motorist benefits in an insurance policy they carried with Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate). An accident occurred wherein Franco suffered injuries and his daughter was killed. The accident was caused by the negligence of an uninsured driver. Franco made a claim for benefits from Allstate and eventually three years later sued Allstate.
Allstate denied the claim and asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. Allstate asserted that a claim for the wrongful death of his daughter and the claim for his injuries, were both governed by a two year statute of limitations. Allstate claimed that because the two years had passed, it was too late for Franco to be seeking recovery.
Franco asserted that the policy of insurance with Allstate was a contract and that contracts are governed by a four year statute of limitations. The statute concerning limitations for a contract is currently found in the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, Section 16.004. It says a lawsuit for breach of contract must be filed within four years after the cause of action for the breach occurs.
The statute of limitations for a personal injury is two years. This statute governing the limitations period for personal injury is found in the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, Section 16.003. This same statute also governs time limits for filing a wrongful death claim.
Allstate’s arguement was that Franco could not file a claim against the uninsured driver after two years because the statute of limitations for a lawsuit against the uninsured driver had expired. In this regard, Allstate was right. As an extension, since the uninsured driver could not be sued, Allstate claimed it could not be sued.
The Texas Supreme Court disagreed. The claim against Allstate was a claim on the contract of insurance between Franco and Allstate. Thus, they ruled that the limitations period was four years, not two.
It is important that an experienced Insurance Law Attorney be consulted in these matters. The reason, is there are different beginning points for when the statute of limitations begins to start on a claim. There can be situations where well over four years has expired and a claim can still be made against an insurance company. Each case has its own specific set of facts that have to be looked at in light of the law to fully understand the rights a person may have in a situation.