What Is the Statute of Limitations to File A Personal Injury Claim in Texas?
Contemplating on filing a personal injury claim in Texas? Make sure you understand the statutes of limitations and how it can affect your chances of getting compensation. Talk to a personal injury attorney in Edinburg, TX, to know what options you have.
When you suffer a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may be thinking of filing a claim. Texas law provides that the party responsible for your injuries should compensate you for the incurred damages.
However, to get compensated, you have to file a claim within the required time limit. This requirement is laid out in the Texas statute of limitations. In a nutshell, the limitations indicate the time frame within which an injured person is allowed to bring a personal injury complaint to the court to be compensated.
Read on for an overview of what you should know about Texas personal injury statute of limitation, why you should adhere to the deadlines, and a few exceptions to the rule.
What is the Time Limit for Filing Texas Personal Injury Cases?
In Texas, the time frame within which an aggrieved party is required to bring forth a personal injury claim is two years. According to the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code section 16.003, claims must be filed within two years from when the accident happened.
Therefore, whether you have suffered some form of injuries due to an auto accident, slip or fall, product accident, or any other injuries due to a person’s negligence or intentional act, you have two years to file a claim.
How is the Statute of Limitations Calculated?
Generally, the time within which you must file a claim begins to run (or “toll”) from the day when the event occurred. For example, if you were involved in a serious car accident on June 19, 2018, you will have two years to file your lawsuit. This means you will have to file a lawsuit before June 19, 2020.
Keep in mind that the statute of limitation does not affect when the court must have heard or determined your case. What it simply requires is for you to have filed a lawsuit within the period. Generally, it is easy to tell the time limits for filing a personal injury case.
However, in some unique situations, which we will discuss later on in this article, the time period may be adjusted. You’ll want to speak with an attorney to know all the available options for filing a lawsuit, even if two years have already passed since your injuries.
The Importance of the Statutes of Limitations
All states have various statutes of limitations. These statutes not only apply to personal injury cases but also other cases such as medical malpractice, property damage, wrongful death, and product liability.
The courts have been using statutes of limitation for hundreds of years. One of the main reasons why the statutes are used is to protect defendants. The statutes are there to encourage victims to pursue their lawsuit with care.
Another reason why the statutes of limitations are important is that evidence is likely to be lost over time. Moreover, when it has been many years since the incident happened, chances are that the witnesses who will testify in court may have forgotten the events that led to the injuries.
For example, it would be very difficult for a jury to know whether witnesses that were present when a car accident occurred 20 years ago are telling the truth. With time, it is natural for our memories of events to become fuzzy. Therefore, we may forget or add biased memories to whatever was witnessed. Finally, any evidence about the accident that occurred such a long time ago may have been lost or destroyed over the years.
For public policy reasons, courts are not willing to hear lawsuits involving events that occurred many years ago.
What Happens if the Deadline Elapses?
Sometimes, you may want to file a claim but the statute of limitations provision may have expired, i.e., it may be more than two years since the accident. When you file a claim after two years have passed, the defendant will most likely file a “motion to dismiss”, pointing out this fact. In most cases, the court will dismiss the suit. When the case is dismissed, you won’t be able to request for any damages or compensation from the party responsible for your injuries.
Sometimes, your attorney may prefer to negotiate a settlement with the other party. Depending on the complexity of the case, the negotiations may take weeks, months, or even years. The attorney will be wary of the statute of limitations and know when to file a formal lawsuit in court if the negotiations do not seem to be progressing. The suit should be filed within two years from the date that the accident happened.
Exceptions to the Texas Statute of Limitations
However, in some rare cases, the court can allow you to file a claim even after two years have passed since your accident. Below are some instances when you may still be allowed to file a claim after the statute of limitations expires.
- You are under a legal disability. If you are under a legal disability at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations “clock’ will not start rolling until you either become of legal age or the disability is removed.
- Periodic absence of the defendant. If the person responsible for the accident leaves Texas before you can file a lawsuit, the period of absence won’t be applied towards the two year deadline.
- You are imprisoned. Sometimes, you may be imprisoned before you file your lawsuit. In such a case, the statute of limitations will not apply for the years during which you may be in prison. When you get out of prison, you can proceed with the process of filing a suit.
- You were a minor. If you sustained personal injuries in an accident when you were a minor, the statute of limitations period would not start tolling until you turn 18.
- You were mentally incapable. If, after the accident, you suffered a period where you were mentally incapacitated, the statute of limitations period will not apply until you recover.
Your Texas personal injury attorney can explain further how the statutes of limitations work. If the deadline is about to expire, get in touch with an experienced lawyer to discuss your options for compensation.