The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Lawsuits
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, the dramatic changes you experienced in your life might make it difficult to even think about taking legal action. However, if you’re unable to work, or you require extensive medical care, you may quickly realize that you need to take steps to recover compensation for your losses.
There’s a specific time period in which you must file your complaint, governed by a written law known as the “statute of limitations.” There are sound reasons for the existence of such a limitation. First, there are risks associated with waiting to file a lawsuit:
- Witnesses might move, die, or forget what they saw or heard;
- Physical evidence might deteriorate or be lost; and
- You might incur other injuries, making it difficult to determine the exact losses you suffered in the first accident.
In addition, it’s long been considered unfair for a defendant to live an infinite period of time with the threat of a lawsuit hanging over their head. It’s generally in everyone’s best interest to address and resolve all issues in a timely manner.
The statute of limitations for a particular legal claim varies based on the type of claim and the state in which the claim is filed. In Texas, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims is two years from the date of the injury. If you fail to file within that time period, you are likely to lose your right to compensation for your losses.
There are, however, limited situations where the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or extended. For example, under the “discovery rule,” the statute of limitations does not start to run until the injured party knows or should know about the injury. The discovery rule typically applies to injuries that are cumulative, like repetitive stress injuries, or that may not be apparent for some period of time, such as exposure to dangerous chemicals.
If your injuries or losses are the result of carelessness or negligence by a local or state government agency or employee, the Texas Tort Claims Act will apply. Under this statute, any personal injury claim against a government entity or employee in Texas must be filed within six months of the date of the accident.