If you have been injured by someone’s wrongful or negligent actions in Texas, you may have the right to file a civil lawsuit to seek financial recovery for the losses you have suffered. Among the many rules governing personal injury lawsuits are statutes of limitations, which place limits on how long an injured party has to bring about a lawsuit.
Statutes of limitation rules are complex, however. While it is always best to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your injury to safeguard your right to seek financial recovery, you shouldn’t assume you can no longer seek compensation if you have waited. There are exceptions to the statute of limitation rules in Texas which could impact your case.
What’s The Statute of Limitations for Filing Personal Injury Cases in Texas?
For personal injury cases involving negligence and wrongful, intentional action, the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, section 16.003, states that personal injury cases are to be filed “not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues.” This means that if you have been injured in a car accident, for example, you have two years from the date of your collision to file a lawsuit. If you wait longer than two years, you may permanently lose your chance to seek financial recovery through a civil suit.
Why Is the Statute of Limitations in Place?
A statute of limitations places a deadline on civil claims, ensuring they are filed in a timely manner so potential defendants are not under threat of legal action indefinitely. Without statutes of limitations, lawsuits could be filed at any time, even years after an incident, when much evidence could potentially be lost.
At the same time, two years allows plaintiffs and their lawyers plenty of time to seek out evidence, build a strong case, and see the full extent of damages. This is important, since some injuries may take time to heal, and it may not be immediately apparent the total medical costs involved in a serious injury such as a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury.
What Are Its Exceptions, And Why Do They Exist?
There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations, because in some cases injuries may only be apparent many years after an injury has occurred. In some cases, courts and the state of Texas have recognized that more time is needed for plaintiffs in a claim. Exceptions to the Texas statute of limitations include:
- Product liability cases. If you are injured by an unsafe product, you have 15 years after the date the product was sold to you to file a claim. An additional exception is that if the retailer or manufacturer indicates in writing that the product has a safe life of over 15 years, you have until the end of that number of years to file a product liability action.
- Personal injuries resulting in fatalities. According to Texas statutes, in case of a fatality “the cause of action accrues on the death of the injured person,” which means the statute of limitations is two years after the death of the person. If an individual is hit by a truck, for example, and dies of their injuries six months later, the immediate family has two years after the date of death to file a lawsuit.
- Asbestos and silica-related cases. There are further exceptions in personal injury cases and deaths resulting from silica or asbestos exposure. According to Texas law, the claimant has two years following “the date of the exposed person’s death” or “the date that the claimant serves on a defendant a report complying with Section 90.004 or 90.010(f)” to file a lawsuit.
- Sexual assault. In cases of sexual abuse of children, section 16.0054 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code establishes a 15-year statute of limitations, except for cases involving aggravated sexual assault, human trafficking, forced prostitution, and sexual assault of persons who are not children. In those cases, the statute of limitations is five years.
- Construction defects. If you are injured by a defect created by an architect, interior designer, surveyor, landscape architect, or engineer, the statute of limitations is ten years.
There may be additional exceptions to your case as well. For example, if you have been injured in an incident involving an aircraft, there may be exceptions to the statute of limitations outlined in the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994. Under these exceptions, you may have up to 18 years to file your claim. If you are injured on a marine vessel, the Jones Act may apply, and you may have three years to file a lawsuit.
There are many state and federal regulations that can inform how much time you have to seek financial recovery. The statute of limitations can also be impacted by where the injury occurred and by the facts of the situation. Even if you’re not certain whether the statute of limitations has run out, it is best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn whether you have a case.
When Does the Clock Start Running on the Texas Statute of Limitations?
In most cases, the clock starts running as soon as the accident or incident causing your injury occurs. If the accident leads to a fatality, the clock starts running at the time of the fatality. An important exception occurs with silica-related and asbestos-related injuries.
In these cases, time starts ticking when an individual dies or when a defendant is served. Another important exception is with products liability cases, where the clock starts ticking when an item is purchased. In some cases, the warranty or stated shelf life may determine the statute of limitations in a products liability case.
Is There Anything That May Make Someone Unable to Take Advantage of the Exceptions?
Even if you have more time than two years to file a lawsuit because of an exception, you may not necessarily be able to take advantage. If evidence has been destroyed or gone missing in the years since the injury, for example, you may not be able to build a strong case. In many cases, a defendant will claim that an exception does not apply in your case, and your attorney will need to establish why the exception does apply.
In the years between an injury and when the statute of limitations runs out, a great deal can happen. To protect your right to seek financial recovery, it is advisable to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your injury, even if you’re not sure you want to file a claim right away. An attorney can preserve evidence and can time the filing of your lawsuit so it is advantageous to you.
How Can FVF Help Ensure You Don’t Run Out of Filing Time or Fail to Miss an Exception?
At FVF, our law firm is built on values designed to help our clients. Our focus is on helping our clients through what is often a challenging time in their lives, and we do this with compassionate listening, honest legal advice and representation, and a commitment to educating clients so they can make informed decisions. Our team can empower you with information about the Texas statute of limitations, personal injury law, and your rights so you can move forward with confidence.
The FVF team has more than 80 years of combined experience supporting clients with cases and questions regarding Texas negligence, statute of limitations, and personal injury claims. Our track record of success and our high client satisfaction rate speak for themselves. If you have been injured and are wondering when the Texas negligence statute of limitations runs out or need more information, contact FVF for a free, no-pressure consultation with a Texas statute of limitations personal injury lawyer.