In Texas, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years for various personal injury claims. If you bring a lawsuit after this period of time you may be barred from having your case heard in court. This can happen no matter the strength of your suit.
Personal injury claims can be made due to traffic accidents, slip-and-falls, medical malpractice, and other injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. In Texas, it is important to ensure cases are tried when evidence is available and memories are fresh.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Begin to Accrue?
Generally, the statute of limitations for a personal injury begins on the date of your accident. For instance, if you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident you have two years from the date your accident occurred to file a lawsuit.
This two-year “clock” begins even if you fail to immediately discover the full extent of your injuries. This can severely limit the time you have to file your personal injury claim.
For example, a head injury caused by a rear-end automobile collision may take a long time to diagnose due to symptoms that appear similar to other medical conditions.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
There are certain instances where exceptions can be made to the statute of limitations on personal injury.
Minors and Individuals of “Unsound Mind”
If you are “under a legal disability” at the time of your injury, the statute of limitations will not begin until you can legally make decisions for yourself. This applies to minors under 18 years old and people of “unsound mind.”
If you had a 16-year-old daughter who was injured in a car accident, her statute of limitations to file a claim would not begin until she turned 18. This means she has until the age of 20 to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Defendant Is Out of Texas
The statute of limitations may be paused or extended if you are injured by a person who is later out of Texas. For example, if you are in a car accident with an active-duty Armed Forces member who is later deployed overseas, the law allows for the statute of limitations to be paused until the services member returns to Texas.
The discovery rule can extend the statute of limitations on a personal injury claim to two years from the date an injury from a negligent act was discovered.
The discovery rule can allow for more time in cases where sustained injuries cannot be attributed to a specific date. For example, if you were exposed to asbestos on the job, the statute of limitations begins to accrue when you serve the defendant a report by a board-certified physician detailing your injuries.
In instances of medical malpractice, determining the statute of limitations can get tricky. This is because the exact date of medical negligence can be subject to legal interpretation. For example, if you suffered injuries from an implanted medical device after having it in place for more than two years, the statute of limitations would accrue when the cause of your injuries was diagnosed.
The complexities of how the statute of limitations applies to personal injury can be confusing. This is why it is important for you to seek qualified legal counsel for assistance in filing your personal injury case. A personal injury attorney will help you understand the law and ensure your important case is not disqualified for missing critical deadlines.