If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, the results can be life-changing, and may potentially last for years. Head, neck, and back injuries may cause pain and medical issues for the rest of your life. But did you know that you only have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim in Texas? Let’s learn about the Texas statute of limitations for personal injury claims.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that requires people to file lawsuits or make legal claims within a set period of time. The exact period of time varies depending on the type of legal action (so criminal cases usually have a different statute of limitations than civil cases) and from state to state.
The idea of a statute of limitations goes all the way back to ancient Greece. The purpose is to make sure a person with a legal claim pursues it promptly, while it is still possible for both sides to gather evidence. If a claim is filed long after the incident, it may not be possible to gather evidence or identify witnesses, which may make the proceedings unfair.
The statute of limitations usually begins on the day of the incident. In some cases, the statute of limitations begins the day that the victim becomes aware of their injury. This is helpful for occupational injuries like exposure to harmful substances that a worker may not have been aware of, or which may have taken place over long periods of time.
What is the Time Limit for Personal Injury Claims in Texas?
The Texas statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years. In most cases, this means that the injured person has to file their claim within two years from the date of the injury, or from the date of death when filing a wrongful death claim. There are a few important exceptions to the Texas statute of limitations on personal injury claims, including:
- Asbestos and silica-related injuries. People who have been injured from exposure to asbestos or silica may file a claim within two years of the death of the injured person or within two years of the preparation of a medical report detailing the nature and cause of their injury as asbestos or silica-related.
- Sexual assault injuries. In many cases, claims for certain types of sexual assault can be filed up to 30 years after the incident.
- Construction negligence injuries. If a person is injured due to faulty building design, construction, or repair within 10 years of the completion of the work, they may be able to sue the architect, engineer, designer, or other liable parties.
- Faulty product injury. If a person is injured due to a defective product, they have 15 years to file a claim against the manufacturer, seller, or other responsible parties.
Despite these exceptions, it’s safe to assume that for almost all injuries in Texas, you have two years to start legal proceedings.
Can You Exceed the Time Limit for Personal Injury Lawsuits in Texas?
In most cases, if you file a Texas personal injury claim after two years, your case will be dismissed. There are a few exceptions in which the courts grant extra time, including:
- Death. If a person dies during the course of their personal injury claim, the statute of limitations may be extended for 12 months in order for their heirs or executors to continue the case. In addition, the estate of the injured person may proceed with the personal injury case within two years + 12 months from the injury date, while their loved ones may file a wrongful death claim within two years from the date of death.
- Disability or minority. If an injured person is under the age of 18, or mentally disabled in a way that does not allow them to pursue their case, the time of disability is not included in the statute of limitations. The two-year statute of limitations resumes when they turn 18, or when the disability ends. However, a mental disability that arises during the course of legal proceedings does not pause the statute of limitations.
- Absence from Texas. If the person who was responsible for the injury leaves the state of Texas, the statute of limitations pauses, and resumes when they return to the state. They cannot escape legal liability by moving elsewhere.
Texas courts intend for the statute of limitations to be tough, but fair. If you are still suffering from the effects of an injury sustained more than two years ago, or if you were recently diagnosed with a long-term disability or illness related to an old injury, it is worth consulting with an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer to determine whether there is an exception that applies to your case.
How Can an Experienced Texas Personal Injury Attorney Help?
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, it is important to seek appropriate medical care right away. Taking care of yourself is the highest priority. Afterward, it is best to talk with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you:
- Determine who may be liable in your case. Some accidents have multiple causes, and more than one party may be at fault.
- Conduct an investigation. From the moment of an injury, it is important to gather and preserve evidence. Pictures, witness statements, and other evidence should be collected as soon as possible. An attorney will also guide you on the types of records you will need in your case, and make sure you take action within the Texas statute of limitations on bodily injury claims.
- Negotiate on your behalf. If insurance or workers’ comp is involved in your injury, you will need an experienced attorney to make sure a settlement covers all the recovery you are entitled to.
- Take those responsible to court. If negotiations are unsuccessful, you need an attorney with the experience and expertise to take your claims to court and win.
Aaron Allison is a second-generation personal injury law firm in Texas, fighting for the rights of injury victims since 1978. We offer free consultations to help you understand your options, and work on a contingency basis, so you don’t pay legal fees unless we recover for you. Aaron Allison’s years of experience in personal injury help you act quickly and beat the statute of limitations. Contact us today for more information.