If you have been injured in an auto collision, slip and fall, or other accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you have a limited time to file a lawsuit. In Texas, every type of legal claim has a statute of limitations dictating how long you have to file the claim in court. For personal injury cases, that time limit is two years.
How does the statute of limitations for personal injury claims work?
The Texas personal injury statute of limitations provides that a personal injury lawsuit must be initiated within two years of the date on which the claim “accrues.” In almost all cases, that means the case must be filed in court within two years of the accident that caused the injury.
If a personal injury victim files a complaint in court, but it is past the two-year time limit, they will face a motion to dismiss from the defendant, and the case will most likely be thrown out, leaving the injured party with nothing. Generally speaking, you do not get another chance to sue once the statute of limitations on injury lawsuits has passed.
Don’t personal injury cases sometimes take years to resolve?
Personal injury litigation can go on for years, especially when a settlement cannot be reached before trial. However, the statute of limitations only applies to the initial court filing. Once a lawsuit has been filed and the defendant has been timely served, it may take as long as it needs to work through the court system without the statute of limitations getting in the way.
Is there a time limit on personal injury claims?
Personal injury victims often spend months going back and forth with insurance representatives regarding their injury claims before a lawsuit ever gets filed. This gives the parties a chance to reach a mutually acceptable settlement through negotiation and potentially avoids the time and expense of going to court.
However, the injured individual (and their attorney) must remain vigilant about the statute of limitations, as a personal injury claim will be barred unless it is filed in court before the time limit expires. Filing an insurance claim and negotiating with the insurer will not stop the clock from running, and once the time limit passes, the insurance company will have no incentive to settle.
Exceptions to the personal injury statute of limitations
There are limited exceptions to the personal injury statute of limitations, in which an injured person may have more than two years to file a lawsuit.
First, if the victim is considered to be “under a legal disability” when the accident occurs, the two-year limitations period does not begin until they are no longer disabled. An individual is considered to be under a legal disability if they are under the age of 18 or if they are of unsound mind. So, for example, if a 17-year-old is injured in an accident, the time limit to file a claim does not begin until they turn 18.
Additionally, if the person at fault in the accident is absent from the state of Texas, the statute of limitations for the claim is suspended during the time during which they are out-of-state.
Finally, if you have been injured in an accident where the government, or a government employee working in their official capacity, was at fault, you must provide written notice of the claim within six months, even though you have two years to sue..
Does the personal injury statute of limitations apply to all injury claims?
The two-year limitations period described above applies to most personal injury claims based on negligence or intentional acts. Keep in mind, however, that some claims have additional time limits.
For example, if you want to sue an architect or engineer for the negligent design or construction of a building or equipment attached to land, in addition to filing suit within two years of an injury, you must ensure that your lawsuit is filed not later than ten years after the date of substantial completion of the improvement or the beginning of the operation of the equipment. if you are injured because of a defective product, in addition to filing suit within two years, you must ensure that your lawsuit is filed not later than 15 years from the date of the original sale of the product that caused the injury.. In these examples, you would want to immediately consult with a Houston workplace injury lawyer or defective product lawyer regarding your options for filing a lawsuit.
Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible
If you were injured in an accident and fear that you may be running out of time to file a claim, or that the statute of limitations may have already passed, you should get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced Houston personal injury lawyer will be able to evaluate your situation, determine which time limitations apply, and take the necessary steps to preserve your right to compensation.
The Law Office of Richard Schechter regularly represents victims of injury due to car and truck accidents, oilfield and refinery accidents, and defective products. Contact our office today for a free consultation.