How Long Do You Have To File A Personal Injury Claim In Texas?
If you have been injured by negligence in the state of Texas – in a traffic accident or in any other scenario – and you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages, a number of Texas state laws may apply at some point or to some aspect of your case. Statutes of limitations, for example, are laws that set a maximum time limit, after an event that may trigger legal action, within which that legal action can be initiated.
In criminal law, a statute of limitations enhances the pursuit of justice by ensuring that convictions are based on evidence – and on eyewitnesses’ memories – that have not deteriorated or faded over time. Prosecutors must bring most criminal charges within a time limit which varies by the jurisdiction and the nature of the charge.
Most jurisdictions in the U.S. have statutes of limitations for most criminal charges except for homicides and violent felonies. When a statute of limitations runs out in a criminal case, and no charge has been filed, it’s the end of the matter.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN CIVIL CASES IN TEXAS?
All fifty states have also limited the amount of time that a person has to file a civil personal injury claim after suffering injury or harm. Statutes of limitations in civil cases vary depending on the jurisdiction and the exact nature of the injury claim, and most civil statutes of limitations have several exceptions that are precise and spelled out by law.
In Texas, with several specific exceptions, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including product liability, medical malpractice, and automobile accident claims, is two years from the date of the injury, the date the injury is “discovered,” or the date the injury “should” have been discovered.
If you are injured by negligence in Texas, you shouldn’t wait two years and then try to file a lawsuit at the last minute. If you’ve been injured, right after you’ve been seen by a doctor, discuss your rights and legal options with an experienced Edinburg personal injury attorney.
A good personal injury lawyer will be able to review the details of your accident and injury, gather evidence and speak with witnesses on your behalf, and offer the sound legal advice and guidance that every victim of negligence needs.
In some cases – “delayed discovery” cases – you may have additional time to file a lawsuit if you did not “discover” that you were injured until some time after the accident. A brain injury, in particular, can often be difficult to detect at first but may emerge weeks after an accident as a serious medical condition. The point is, don’t wait. You should put a personal injury lawyer on the case as soon as you know that you’ve been injured by someone’s negligence.
WHAT IS THE TIME LIMIT ON PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIMS?
In product liability cases in the state of Texas, without regard to the “discovery date” of a particular injury, no injury claim may be filed after fifteen years from the date of the first sale of the product allegedly responsible for the injury – with one exception. If a product manufacturer expressly warrants a useful product life longer than fifteen years, the claim must be brought within the number of years warranted.
The fifteen-year limit is particularly important in product liability cases related to allegedly defective pharmaceutical drugs. Some persons may experience reactions or side effects from prescription drugs that are not obvious immediately, including internal damage over time that incrementally becomes more painful and severe. These prescription drug users may also – over time – suffer permanent complications or disabilities.
Statutes of limitations are as old as Western Civilization, and they are primarily designed to protect defendants from unjust claims. The Greek orator and statesman Demosthenes explained that statutes of limitations were approved in ancient Athens to discourage “sycophants,” his word for persons who made a living by filing lawsuits.
Fraud is actually quite rare in personal injury cases today, but statutes of limitations also:
– ensure that justice is swift by compelling plaintiffs to take legal action quickly
– prevent the loss and deterioration of evidence or the introduction of evidence that is outdated or deteriorated
– ensure that the memories of eyewitnesses are fresh and current
It’s important to understand the statutes of limitations in Texas because if you try to bring a personal injury claim after a statute of limitations has expired, your case simply will not be heard. It’s also absolutely imperative to have the counsel of a Texas personal injury lawyer who routinely and successfully represents personal injury victims – an aggressive attorney who is familiar with the system, the rules, and the exceptions to the rules.
WHAT IS THE TIME LIMIT WHEN THE DEFENDANT IS THE GOVERNMENT?
If your personal injury claim involves the possible liability of a Texas government agency or government employee – let’s say that you slipped and fell at the public library on poorly maintained stairs, or your child was injured at a city park on poorly maintained playground equipment – winning reimbursement from the government is more complicated than simply filing a straightforward personal injury claim.
Instead, you’ll first have to notify the governmental agency or body of your intention to file a claim, and in most cases that notification must be submitted within 180 days of the date you were injured. You should include a description of exactly what happened, the nature and extent of your injury or injuries, and the time and place where the injury or injuries occurred.
While the state of Texas provides a 180-day limit for notifying the government of an intention to sue, several Texas cities have imposed much shorter time limits. If you intend to sue the city of Dallas, the city must be notified with 90 days. In Austin, the time limit is 45 days.
More than nine out of ten personal injury cases end with an out-of-court settlement. The two sides reach an agreement and sign papers promising no further legal action. Personal injury attorneys negotiate these settlements routinely. When a claim cannot be settled outside of the courtroom, only then does a personal injury lawsuit go to trial.
If you are injured by someone else’s negligence in Texas – by a negligent driver, doctor, product manufacturer, retailer, landlord, or government agency – an experienced Edinburg personal injury attorney can provide the sound advice you need and fight aggressively for justice on your behalf.