If you file a personal injury claim in Texas, there are certain state laws you must obey to have a valid and successful lawsuit. One of the most important is the statute of limitations or the deadline to file. If you miss your statute of limitations, you will most likely be unable to obtain financial recovery. The basic statute of limitations on all personal injury cases in Texas is two years from the date of the accident.
Statute of Limitations in Texas: Two Years
Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code section 16.003 is the statute of limitations on personal injury civil claims in Texas. It states that, with a few exceptions, an individual must bring a lawsuit for personal injury or property damage within two years of the day that the cause of action accrues. Two years is the deadline for most types of personal injury claims, including motor vehicle accidents, slip, and fall accidents, dog attacks, defective product injuries, and medical malpractice.
Exceptions to the Rule
There are several exceptions to Texas’ statute of limitations that may apply to your individual case. This is why it is important to consult with an attorney to learn your exact deadline. These exceptions include:
- The discovery rule. One of the most commonly used exceptions to Texas’ statute of limitations is the discovery rule. This gives a victim two years from the date he or she discovered the injury (or reasonably should have discovered it) to file rather than the date of the accident. This exception applies to hidden or delayed injuries.
- Wrongful death claims. If a victim loses his or her life in a preventable accident, the state sees the death of the injured person as the accrual of the cause of action. In other words, you will have two years from the date of the deceased individual’s death to file, rather than the date of the accident, if these are two different dates.
- Accidents involving minors or a legal disability. If the accident injured a minor who was under the age of 18 or someone who has a legal disability (such as an “unsound mind”), this will extend the limitations period to two years from the date that the disability is lifted, such as the date a minor turns 18.
- If the defendant leaves the state. If there is a period of time where the defendant leaves the state, the courts will toll – or extend – the deadline so that it does not include the period of absence as part of the two-year statute of limitations.
- Claims filed against the government in Texas. One exception that can shorten, rather than extend, your statute of limitations is if you bring a lawsuit against a government entity. The Texas Tort Claims Act gives you no more than six months from the date the cause of action accrues to give the government agency a notice of your intent to sue.
The statute of limitations may also vary if you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, a property damage-only claim, or a claim involving a crime, such as sexual assault or homicide. A San Antonio personal injury lawyer can review your individual case to help you understand your specific deadline to file.
What Happens If You Miss Your Deadline?
A statute of limitations is an important law that the courts in Texas take seriously. For the most part, if you attempt to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired, the courts will reject your claim. Even if the courts accept your claim, expect the defendant to use the expired statute of limitations as a defense against liability for your losses. The statute of limitations is why it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after suffering an injury in an accident in Texas.