Brian White | June 29, 2021 | Car Accidents
The Texas statute of limitations places deadlines on personal injury lawsuits. If you do not file your lawsuit before the deadline, you lose your right to pursue a claim for damages through the court. In most personal injury cases in Texas, the victim has two years from the injury date or accident date to file a lawsuit.
However, as with most laws, there are exceptions to the general rule. Therefore, accident victims should never assume they have the full two years to file a lawsuit or injury claim. Likewise, there could be situations in which a person might have longer than two years to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Does the Statute of Limitations Apply in All Accident Cases?
The following are some examples of personal injury cases in which statutes of limitations apply:
- Accidents involving motor vehicles, including collisions involving pedestrians, passenger cars, buses, commercial trucks, bicyclists, and motorcycles
- Premises liability claims, such as swimming pool accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, and staircase accidents
- Injuries involving defective products, including medical devices, dangerous drugs, children’s toys, and household appliances
- Claims related to elder abuse and nursing home abuse and neglect
- Claims related to workplace accidents, including construction accidents, maritime accidents, and oil rig accidents
- Medical malpractice and negligence
Each state sets its own statute of limitations for accident claims and personal injury cases. Therefore, always make sure you refer to Texas laws when checking for deadlines to file accident claims.
What Are the Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
Several exceptions exist for the two-year statute of limitations for most accident cases.
For example, the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit is delayed if the victim is a child. The statute of limitations does not begin to run in child injury cases until the child reaches 18 years of age.
A child does not have legal standing to file a lawsuit. In most cases, parents or legal guardians file personal injury lawsuits for children.
However, the law recognizes that a parent may choose not to file a claim. Therefore, a person injured as a child has until their 20th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The statute of limitations may also be tolled when a person has a physical or mental impairment that prevents them from filing a personal injury lawsuit.
There is also an exemption for individuals who might not immediately know about their injury. Under the “Discovery Rule,” the statute of limitations may begin when the person discovers or should have reasonably discovered the injury. The victim has the burden of proving that a reasonable person would not have discovered the injury or harm any earlier. They must also prove that the event was the direct and proximate cause of the injury they discovered.
Claims involving government entities also have special rules. Even though the two-year deadline for filing lawsuits may apply, you must file a Notice of Claim within just a few months of the date of injury. For example, the City of Houston requires the notice of claim to be filed within 90 days of the injury date.
Failing to file a notice of claim with the correct government entity could result in losing the right to pursue a lawsuit in court.
Never Assume You Have Plenty of Time to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
It is never wise to try to calculate the filing deadline yourself. There could be circumstances in your case that shorten or lengthen the time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, it is best to discuss your case with a Houston personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident or injury.
An attorney analyzes all factors and circumstances that could impact the deadline for filing claims and lawsuits. Then, the attorney calculates the deadlines based on the applicable sections of the statute of limitations. When you hire an attorney to handle your personal injury case, the attorney monitors filing deadlines to ensure all filings are prepared and submitted to the court or other entity before the deadlines expire.
Why Does the State Place Deadlines on Personal Injury Claims?
The state enforces the statute of limitations in the interest of justice. The deadlines protect all parties to the action.
If a person could sue another person ten or 15 years after an accident, the defendant would be at a disadvantage. Evidence that might have proven the defendant did not cause the victim’s injuries might be lost or destroyed. In addition, the memories of eyewitnesses fade over time, so facts and recollections may change.
Placing a deadline on filing claims ensures that victims file injury claims and lawsuits promptly. It also reduces the risk that a person may file a frivolous lawsuit merely to harass another person decades after an accident.
Don’t wait too long to talk with a lawyer about your injury case. You run the risk of missing the deadline to file your lawsuit or claim.