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Statute of Limitations in Texas Personal Injury Cases Explained

The statute of limitations is the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit for their “cause of action,” or case. The cause of action this post focuses on is personal jury cases in Texas. The statute of limitations for personal injury actions in Texas is “not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues.” In other words, in most cases, the statute of limitations is two years after the day the injury occurred. For example, if you were injured in a car accident on March 1, 2017, then the deadline to file a lawsuit is March 1, 2019. Filing a lawsuit after the statute of limitations will likely result in the court permanently throwing out the case, and you will also lose the right to any compensation from your injury.

If an injury resulted in the death of an individual the statute of limitations is also two years. However, in a case involving a fatality, “the cause of action accrues on the death of the injured person.” This could potentially shift the statute of limitations out past the date the injury occurred. If an individual is injured in a car accident, and then dies from those injuries three months later, the statute of limitations begins on the date of the individual’s death instead of the date of the injury that caused the death. For example, a person is in an accident on January 1, 2015 and dies from injuries sustained in the accident on March 1, 2015. The statute of limitations for an action for injury resulting in death is March 1, 2017 instead of January 1, 2015.

In Texas law there is a specific carve out for Asbestos-Related or Silica-Related Injuries. The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code says:

Sec. 16.0031. ASBESTOS-RELATED OR SILICA-RELATED INJURES.

(a) In an action for personal injury or death resulting from an asbestos-related injury, as defined by Section 90.001, the cause of action accrues for purposes of Section 16.003 on the earlier of the following dates:

(1)  the date of the exposed person ’s death; or

(2) the date that the claimant serves on a defendant a report complying with Section 90.003 or 90.010(f).

(b)  In an action for personal injury or death resulting from a silica-related injury, as defined by Section 90.001, the cause of action accrues for purposes of Section 16.003 on the earlier of the following dates:

(1) the date of the exposed person ’s death; or

(2) the date that the claimant serves on a defendant a report complying with Section 90.004 or 90.010(f).

There are two possible dates that determine the statute of limitations in these special cases. The date of the exposed person’s death is the first possibility for each injury. If the claimant can prove the person’s death was caused by asbestos-related or silica-related injuries then the claimant has two years to file a lawsuit. The second possible start date for the statute of limitations is linked to when a legally compliant report is served on a defendant. There are attorneys who often specialize in asbestos-related or silica related injuries. If you are unsure about the statute of limitations it is important to contact an attorney for advice.

For certain offenses that involve sexual abuse of children, there is a statute of limitations up to 15 years for personal injury. The specific offenses that qualify are outlined in section 16.0054 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The statute of limitations drops down to five years if the injury is a result of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, trafficking of persons, or compelling prostitution to an individual not considered a child. If the cause of action is for injury that results in death, the start date of the statute of limitations is the death of the injured person instead of the date the injury occurred.

If an individual is seeking damages for a claim against “a registered or licensed architect, engineer, interior designer, or landscape architect in [Texas], who designs, plans, or inspects the construction of an improvement to real property or equipment attached to real property” the statute of limitations is “not later than 10 years after the substantial completion of the improvement or the beginning of operation of the equipment in an action arising out of a defective or unsafe condition of the real property, the improvement, or the equipment.” So, if you are injured by a construction defect then the statute of limitations is up to ten years. The statute is also ten years when seeking damages related to a surveyor, according to  section 16.011.

Section 16.012 outlines the statute of limitations for Products Liability claims. “A claimant must commence a products liability action against a manufacturer or seller of a product before the end of 15 years after the date of the sale of the product by the defendant.”  However, there are some exceptions outlined in the law. The first is if the manufacturer or seller of a product puts down in a written warranty that a “product has a useful safe life of longer than 15 years.” In this case a claimant can file a lawsuit “before the end of the number of years warranted after the date of the sale of the product by that seller.” In other words, if a manufacturer has a warranty of thirty years on a product then the statute of limitations can be extended from 15 to 30 years. The next exception to the 15-year statute of limitations comes into play if a claimant alleges three different things:

  1. “the claimant was exposed to the product that is the subject of the action before the end of 15 years after the date the product was first sold;”
  2. “the claimant’s exposure to the product caused the claimant’s disease that is the bases of the action;”
  3. “the symptoms of the claimant’s disease did not, before the end of 15 years after the date of the first sale of the product by the defendant, manifest themselves to a degree and for a duration that would put a reasonable person on notice that the person suffered some injury.”

Another important exception is for leases of a product as compared to sale of a product. The 15-year statute of limitations is only for sale of a product. The final exception states that section 16.012 “does not apply to any claim to which the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 or its exceptions are applicable.”

Even something that seems as simple as the statute of limitations can have multiple levels of complexity. If you need a consultation on statute of limitations or any other issues related to a personal injury case, speak to one of FVF Law’s experienced personal injury attorneys today by calling 512-351-7589 or emailing office@fvlawfirm.com.

References

  1. Texas Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules
  2. Civil Practice and Remedies Code Title 2. Trial, Judgment, and Appeal Subtitle B. Trial Matters Chapter 16. Limitations
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Scott Butler

Scott Butler holds degrees in political science and history from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a former editor at Landes Bioscience, Cengage Learning, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Scott is interested in how law, technology, and economics interact to change and affect our world. He is a former Case Manager at FVF Law and is currently pursuing a law degree at Baylor University.

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