Statute of Limitations on Texas Personal Injury Claims
You may have heard of this concept called statute of limitations. It is a common legal term that refers to the time limit within which a person must file a lawsuit in order to seek compensation for damages. Each state has its own statute of limitations for different types of cases, including personal injury claims.
In Texas, the standard time limit for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date when the injury occurred. This includes cases involving automobile accidents, medical malpractice, and wrongful death — we're calling these out specifically since many states have varying statute of limitation rules for these specific types of claims.
So what happens if you miss the deadline? Well, to be blunt, you may lose your right to legal recourse. But don't panic. There are exceptions in place that may allow you to still file a claim even after the statute of limitations has passed.
No matter what, with a skilled personal injury lawyer in your corner, you can rest assured that the legal process will be handled in a timely and efficient manner. Whether your accident just happened or your deadline is approaching, it's never too early or too late to speak with an experienced attorney.
Exceptions to the Rule
Now, life isn't always straightforward, and neither are personal injury cases. That's why there are exceptions to this two-year rule. Let's talk about those exceptions.
One of them applies if the injured person is under a legal disability. In Texas law, this means the individual is either under the age of 18 or "of unsound mind". In such cases, the two-year clock doesn't start until the period of legal disability ends.
Defendant Left the State
Another exception occurs when the defendant leaves the state of Texas after the accident. Here, the period of absence isn't counted as part of the two years. So, if the defendant was out of state for six months, you'd essentially have two-and-a-half years from the date of the injury to file your claim.
The Discovery Rule
The discovery rule is another exception. This rule delays the start of the statute of limitations until you discover (or should have discovered) the nature of your injury and its cause. This rule often comes into play in medical malpractice claims, which also have a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the breach or completion of treatment.
If the last day to file falls on a weekend or holiday, Texas law extends the limitation period to the next business day. For example, a lot of car accidents happen when people are traveling for the holidays, because of unpredictable weather and more vehicles on the road. If your two-year deadline falls on Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, or another holiday, you have until the following Monday or the next business day to file your claim.
The exception can be difficult to apply since it depends on whether the court is open or closed, so it's best to consult with a personal injury lawyer in this scenario.
There are some unique scenarios to consider too. For instance, Texas has a 15-year statute of repose for product liability cases. This means you must commence legal action within 15 years from the date of the product's sale. The longer limit on these cases reflects the fact that injuries from a faulty product may not appear until many years after purchase.
It's also worth noting that tragic and violent crimes like murder, hit-and-run involving death, and rape offenses have no time limit.
Texas's Comparative Negligence Rule
Texas operates under a comparative negligence rule. This means if you're partially at fault for your injury, it could affect the amount of compensation you receive. For example, if you're found 25% responsible for your injury, you'd only receive 75% of the total amount awarded.
Statutes of limitations can be a confusing subject for many people, but it's important to understand how they apply in personal injury cases. Don't let deadlines and exceptions overwhelm you — speak with a knowledgeable attorney who will listen to your story and advocate for your best interests.
Reach Out to Us for Help
The clock on the Texas statute of limitations waits for no one (unless you fall under one of the state's outlined exceptions). So if you've been injured, it's essential to act quickly and understand your rights. We're here to help guide you through this complex process, ensuring you receive the justice you deserve. Don't wait – your claim is too important.
At The Law Office of Steve Brannan, we've spent years serving the communities of Odessa, Midland, Big Spring, Pecos, Andrews, and throughout West Texas, providing the guidance and support needed in personal injury cases.
So, if you're feeling a bit lost or just need some advice, don't hesitate to reach out. Remember, these laws are in place to protect you, so let's ensure they serve their purpose. Reach out to us today and let us fight for your rights.