PERSONAL INJURY STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN TEXAS
Texas Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury claims have the potential to be complicated for more than a couple of reasons. One of these reasons is the statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Texas. Although many people believe that you should be able to file a claim at any point after an accident happens, this simply isn’t the case. If you find yourself searching the Internet for “statute of limitations personal injury Texas,” this page is for you.
The Houston personal injury lawyers at Reich & Binstock have extensive experience helping injured claimants and their family members with their personal injury lawsuits. We handle a wide array of cases, including auto accidents, product liability cases, medical malpractice, and more. If you’re unsure of whether the Texas personal injury statute of limitations has passed in your case, call our office to schedule a free consultation with us. We will evaluate your case and help you determine the next steps to take. Call our law office at 713-622-7271 today, or fill out our online intake form.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
In any personal injury case, there exists what is called a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is basically a time limit that defines how long an injured person has to file a personal injury lawsuit. In general, the statute of limitations remains the same for every personal injury claim, but there are a few exceptions. We’ll go over those exceptions in a later section.
Why Do We Have Statutes of Limitations?
So, why do victims of a personal injury accident only have a certain amount of time to file their claim? The purpose behind having a statute of limitations period is to prevent defendants from being subject to unfair legal proceedings. Let’s say that someone injures another person in a car accident in 2022. If the injured person fails to file a claim within the next two years, they are barred from filing a claim at all.
Over time, evidence degrades, becomes inaccessible, or is obscured by the passage of time. Witness testimonies also become more and more unreliable with time, as their memories fade. Personal injury claims must be as fair as possible, which means that evidence and testimonies should be fresh. If a defendant were put up against old evidence that may or may not be reliable, this is not a fair legal proceeding. Therefore, statutes of limitations for personal injury claims exist in each state, as well as federally.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Texas?
Each state has its own statute of limitations when it comes to personal injury cases, although they all tend to be fairly similar. According to the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This Texas law states that a “civil action for personal injury” must be initiated “not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues.”
In other words, the injured party has two years from the date of the injury to file their claim. This means that if someone was injured on January 1st, 2022, they have until January 1st, 2024 to file their claim. Keep in mind that more severe crimes and injuries may have longer statute of limitations periods. They may also be shorter than two years. In the following sections, we outline some of the variations of the two-year limitations period.
For non-injury civil claims, the two-year statute of limitations can vary depending on the type and severity of the claim. Below, we outline the Texas statute of limitations for various non-injury claims.
- Slander or Libel: One year, according to TCPRC 16.002.
- Professional Malpractice: Two years from the date of the malpractice with a maximum period of ten years, according to TCPRC 74.251. Keep in mind that the medical malpractice statute of limitations in Texas may vary.
- Personal Property Damage: Two years, according to TCPRC 16.003.
- Fraud: Four years, according to TCPRC 16.004.
- Rent Collection: Four years, according to TCPRC 16.004.
- Trespassing: Two years, according to TCPRC 16.003.
- Written Contracts: Four years, according to TCPRC 16.004.
- Debt Collection: Four years, according to TCPRC 16.004.
- Court Judgments: Ten years, according to TCPRC 16.066.
The Texas statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases varies depending on whether the case is criminal or civil in nature. Criminal cases of sexual abuse against adults have a statute of limitations of 10 years from the date on which the crime took place. Civil cases of sexual abuse have a statute of limitations of 5 years from the date on which the offense occurred. In cases where the victim was a minor (under 17) at the time of the offense, the statute of limitations is extended to 30 years. If you are a victim of abuse, contact a sexual abuse lawyer with Reich & Binstock to file a civil claim against your abuser.
Although medical malpractice technically falls under both the categories of personal injury and professional negligence, these cases have their own time limits. Generally, victims of medical malpractice have two years from the date the incident occurred. However, the discovery rule allows victims to bring claims after the two-year period passes. Claimants may pursue medical malpractice lawsuits no later than 10 years from the date of the original incident.
If you’ve been harmed by negligence from a medical professional, we strongly recommend speaking with a medical malpractice lawyer in Houston. This will ensure that you don’t risk losing your chance at compensation.
What Are the Exceptions to the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Texas?
As we mentioned previously, there are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations deadline for personal injury cases. We’ll explain these exceptions below.
- Texas law states that those who are under a “legal disability” have an extended filing deadline. A legal disability could mean that the victim was a minor at the time of the incident, or that they were not mentally capable of filing a claim. In this case, the two-year clock starts ticking down only when they are no longer under a legal disability. In other words, the victim either turns 18 or they are no longer of “unsound mind” and are deemed mentally competent.
- If the person responsible for the incident leaves the state of Texas, the period of time they are outside the state will not count toward the two-year limit. Instead, when they leave the state, the clock pauses. When they return to the state of Texas, the clock resumes ticking down.
If you’re unsure about your case’s filing deadline, the best thing to do is contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area. Our attorneys will do our due diligence while handling your claim to make sure it is filed in a timely manner.
What Happens if the Statute of Limitations Passes Before I File a Claim?
In most cases, you will be barred from taking legal action against the defendant. You may try to initiate a claim, but they can easily file a “motion to dismiss” with the court. This motion will point out the fact that you have missed the filing deadline for your case, and the court will dismiss it. Only in very rare circumstances are filers allowed to submit their claim past the filing deadline.
Can You File a Personal Injury Claim After Three Years in Texas?
This depends on the specific type of claim you want to bring, as well as the date on which the personal injury incident occurred. If you wish to file a claim after a car accident only have two years to do so. However, those who want to file a claim for fraud have four years to do so. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure that you don’t miss your chance at compensation.
How Can Working with an Attorney Help Me?
Working with an attorney for your personal injury case is crucial, as there are often many nuances in these cases. Our attorneys will review the facts of your case and identify how much time you have to file a claim for compensation. We make a concerted effort to keep up with any and all changes to Texas law that might affect your ability to file a claim. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your case is not dismissed in court.
Contact a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston
Whether you’ve suffered a personal injury or you’re a victim of fraud or slander, you have avenues through which you can pursue compensation. However, it’s important to work with a Texas personal injury attorney as soon as possible. We will help ensure that you file your claim on time so you are not barred from pursuing compensation.
At Reich & Binstock, we will evaluate your claim and gather evidence to hold the at-fault party accountable for your losses. We not only handle personal injury cases, but we also handle wrongful death claims, sexual assault and abuse claims, and certain insurance company claims. To schedule your free consultation with us, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.
There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.