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Texas Personal Injury News

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Texas

Virtually every legal cause of action has a “time limit” by which you must assert your claim. Failing to bring your legal case before this time runs out will bar your claim forever. This time limit is commonly known as the “Statute of Limitations,” because the restriction is specifically set out by statute. 

The amount of time that you have to sue the defendant will vary depending on the type of claim that you want to assert. Personal injury claims generally use the “time limit” for bodily injury and property damage, but other limitations may apply as well.

The Rationale Behind the Statute of Limitations

The Statute of Limitations serves two major purposes. First, it encourages victims to bring their claims quickly so that evidence is fresh and available. Witnesses are more likely to remember information when asked about it closer in time to the incident. Many businesses and institutions are only required to keep documentary evidence for a certain amount of time. If you wait too long, much of this valuable information may be destroyed.

The second reason that this limitation is in place is a benefit to the alleged wrongdoer or defendant. The defendant may not be able to effectively defend himself or herself if you wait too long to bring your claim for the same evidentiary concerns. It also allows the defendant a little peace of mind as well. Having a potential lawsuit looming forever is both stressful and impractical.

Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations in Texas

Most personal injury lawsuits involve claims for bodily harm and property damage. Those claims must be asserted within two years from the date of the injury. Other potential claims and their time limits are listed below.

  • Assault and Battery: Two years
  • False Imprisonment: Two years
  • Fraud: Four Years
  • Medical Malpractice: Two years
  • Libel and Slander: One year
  • Trespass: Two years
  • Wrongful Death: Two years

The “clock” starts on these claims on the date of the occurrence in most situations. For example, a claim for personal injury in a car accident case will begin as of the date of the accident. 

However, there are situations where this is not the case. In circumstances where you were incapacitated because of your injury, your “clock” will not start until you are physically and mentally able to understand your situation. 

The Discovery Rule and Statute of Limitations

The “discovery rule” is an exception to the statute of limitations. There are situations where victims may not understand or appreciate the full extent of their injuries or the cause of their injury until long after the action that caused the damage occurred. The discovery rule is more common in medical practice claims or situations where you are unsure of what caused your injury.

For example, imagine that you go into the hospital for surgery. The procedure is not successful, and you must be the hospital and have a second surgery as a result. You may not know or understand why the first operation failed. It could have been a variety of factors, from your body’s response to an error the doctor made. It may take some time to determine what caused your need for the second surgery. That is one of many situations in which the discovery rule might apply.

If you think you have a personal injury claim, you should contact an attorney sooner than later, regardless of how much time you have to file your lawsuit. It takes time to develop your case—and the sooner you start this process, the better. Contact our team today for more information.


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Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, PC has offices located in Houston and Lufkin Texas and serves clients throughout East Texas as well as many other states.
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