Understanding the Texas Statute of Limitations

The immediate aftermath of an accident is often considered the most challenging. Your primary concerns are probably recovery and rehabilitation, keeping your financial and living situation stable, and caring for your loved ones.

With so much to manage after a traumatic event, filing a civil lawsuit might not have even occurred to you. Although it may be far from your mind, taking legal action is one way to make sure you and your family receives the support you need to make a full and fast recovery.

If you are considering a civil lawsuit, you must file your claim within a period known as the statute of limitations. While it is easy to delay legal action, the statute of limitations places a deadline on how long injured individuals can wait to file a claim.

At Burch Law Firm, our attorneys are familiar with the Texas statute of limitations for personal injury claims, and we can help you begin your case as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn more about the statute of limitations in Texas, including relevant exceptions and when you should seek an attorney.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

Every state sets its own statute of limitations that places a limit on the amount of time a person has to bring a civil lawsuit against another party. Once the statute of limitations expires, the court will almost always bar an individual from seeking to file a lawsuit or pursuing their tort action.

In Texas, the length of the statute of limitations will vary based on the type of case. For example, the statute of limitations on a car accident lawsuit may be different from the statute of limitations in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

In New Braunfels and throughout the state, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is usually two years from the event. Most often, the statute of limitations begins running on the day the accident, injury, or incident occurred.

For example, if you were in a car accident on September 8, 2017, the statute of limitations begins on that day and expires on September 8, 2019. There are a few exceptions to the strict two-year limitation, including if the injured person is under 18 years of age or of unsound mind at the time of the accident.

Texas Statute of Limitations by Claim

People who are looking to sue often assume that they will not have legal grounds if more than two years have passed. This assumption is often incorrect because different types of claims have different statutes of limitations, even within the same state.

In Texas, the following statutes of limitations apply:

  • 1 year: Applies to claims of malicious slander, libel, prosecution, or breach of promise of marriage.
  • 2 years: Applies to claims of trespass for injury to the estate or property of another party, taking or detaining the property of another, personal injury, forcible entry, wrongful death, and forcible detainer.
  • 4 years: Applies to claims involving debt, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty.
  • 15 years: Applies to claims related to the sexual assault of a child, the sexual abuse of a child, sexual trafficking of a child, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault, trafficking of a person, and compelling prostitution.

It is important to keep in mind that the limitations listed above apply to civil claims, rather than criminal. Civil lawsuits are those in which an individual is typically seeking damages for some type of injury. In contrast, a government official will typically purse criminal charges against a defendant, and they have different statutes of limitations. Many serious crimes, including murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, arson, and certain sex crimes have no statute of limitations.

In addition, there are variations in when the statute of limitations begins. For example, in a wrongful death case, the statute of limitations expires two years from the date of death rather than the date of the original injury and accident. That means if someone was injured in a drunk driving accident on November 9, but did not die from their injuries until November 20, the statute of limitations begins on the second date.

A qualified New Braunfels personal injury attorney can help you determine the probable statute of limitations for your case.

What Happens If the Statute of Limitations Expires?

Unfortunately, failure to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations usually means you will be permanently barred from recovering compensation for your losses. Depending on the extent of the injury you suffered, the inability to seek compensation may mean you must shoulder the burden of numerous losses and expenses on your own. Such costs could include hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and insurance payments.

If the statute of limitations expires, the claimant forfeits the right to pursue and recover damages, regardless of the type of personal injury claim. This experience can be painful, but an understanding of the Texas statute of limitations can help you make sure to file claims at the appropriate times. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer has experience dealing with and working around the statute of limitations in cases. Do not hesitate to contact Burch Law Firm in Comal County for questions about your case.

Exceptions to Texas Statute of Limitations

People think of the statute of limitations as an inconvenient but unchangeable deadline that is impossible to work around. In fact, there are some narrow exceptions to the statute of limitations. Some of the possible exceptions include the following:

  • Age: The statute of limitations is delayed if the person affected is under 18 years of age. For example, if a 12-year-old child is injured in a bicycle accident, the statute of limitations is delayed until that person turns 18.
  • Unsound mind: If the injured person is not of sound mind when the accident occurs, the statute of limitations does not begin until they are of sound mind.
  • Fraudulent concealment: This exception is most common in cases involving fraud. If the defendant concealed information from you such that you could not have known you were being defrauded, the statute of limitations will not begin until you discover of reasonably should have discovered the relevant information.
  • Discovery rule: Similar to fraudulent concealment, the discovery rule applies when an injured person was unaware of their injury. When this is the case, the statute of limitations does not begin until the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.

If any of the above exceptions apply to you, there is a chance you may still have time to file a lawsuit. An attorney can help you understand how Texas statute of limitations on personal injury claims applies specifically to your case.

Should I Talk to an Attorney Even If I Think It Is Too Late?

In a word, yes.

Even if you are confident that there is no possible way you could ever file a lawsuit, there might be an exception that applies to you. Statutes of limitations vary from case to case and situation to situation. These deviations from the norm and the interpretation of the laws can be confusing, but they can make your case viable even after the typical statute of limitations passes.  

If you are wondering whether it is too late to file a personal injury claim, you should speak with a Texas injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Why Do I Need an Attorney?

Working with an attorney is essential when handling cases that are time-sensitive and important. Your lawyer can help you prepare your case by gathering evidence, opening an investigation, working with experts, and building arguments to obtain the best result possible.

It is useful to have a qualified individual fighting for your right to compensation. Civil lawsuits are difficult work, and involve the burden of paperwork, deadlines, and negotiations. An attorney can handle these aspects of your case while you focus on your recovery.

Contact Burch Law Firm to Pursue Compensation for Injuries

The statutes of limitations in Texas are complex rules that decide a lot about your case. Even when people assume they can no longer file a lawsuit, there may be hope for your personal injury lawsuit. With that in mind, it is better to have an advocate fighting for you as you begin the process of obtaining compensation.

At Burch Law Firm, our New Braunfels personal injury attorneys are committed to helping people who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. We understand how difficult it can be to recover after an accident, which is why we try to make the process as easy as possible for our clients.

After you are injured in an accident, filing a lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind. It is important to act sooner rather than later if you are considering filing a civil case. Our injury lawyers have the resources and knowledge necessary to guide you through the legal process.

Please contact us today by phone or online for your free case consultation to learn how we will fight for you.