When parties cause injuries and harm because of negligence, intentional torts, or other wrongdoing, they might be liable for the damages they cause. Injured victims can seek compensation for their damages by filing a personal injury claim. Most injury claims settle without the victim filing a lawsuit.
However, you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit to protect your right to fair compensation for injuries and damages. If so, it is important to understand the Texas statute of limitations and how it impacts your personal injury case. You do not have an unlimited time to file a lawsuit.
Table of Contents
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets deadlines for filing a civil lawsuit. Statutes of limitations also apply in criminal cases. Each state sets the laws for cases filed within their state.
Why Does Texas Enforce a Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases?
It might seem unfair to some victims that they must settle a claim or file a lawsuit before a deadline. However, there are reasons why Texas enforces statements of limitations in personal injury cases. Those reasons include:
- Preventing a party from abusing the judicial system to file lawsuits related to old matters.
- Ensuring that a civil dispute is settled with the best evidence available.
- Helping the courts maintain an efficient schedule.
- Encourage parties to resolve their disputes quickly.
There are reasons to resolve disputes quickly. Evidence can be lost or destroyed over time. Additionally, eyewitnesses may move, die, or forget what they saw.
What Happens if You Miss the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Case?
If you do not file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, you lose your right to recover damages for your claim. The defendant can raise the failure to meet the statute of limitations as a defense. Even though all allegations in your complaint are true, the judge can dismiss your case unless there are extenuating circumstances or an exception that applies to your case.
What Is the Texas Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases?
Most personal injury cases in Texas have a two-year statute of limitations. The deadline applies in cases related to car accidents, premises liability, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, dog bites, wrongful death, and product liability.
However, exceptions to the statute of limitations can extend or shorten the deadline to file a lawsuit. Some exceptions that could change the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas include, but are not limited to:
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
In some cases, state law pauses or “tolls” the statute of limitations. Cases that might qualify to have the statute of limitations tolled include:
- The victim was under 18 years old when they were injured
- The defendant (at-fault party) left the state
- The victim is mentally incompetent
The above conditions are not the victim’s fault. Therefore, the law extends the time to file a lawsuit for a personal injury. However, other circumstances could impact the deadline, so always consult an El Paso personal injury attorney instead of assuming you have more time to file a lawsuit.
Suing the Government in Texas for Personal Injury
The government usually has immunity from being sued. However, the Texas Tort Claims Act waives sovereign immunity if the government agency or a government employee was negligent.
The statute of limitations for government lawsuits is different. First, you must file a notice of claim with the government agency. In most cases, you have just six months to file your notice of claim, but some cities or counties have shorter deadlines.
If you do not file a notice of claim, you could lose your right to sue the government. Therefore, you must act quickly to preserve your right to file a lawsuit for personal injury.
Texas Has a Statute of Repose for Personal Injury Claims
You have two years from the date you knew about your injury or “should have known” about the injury. However, that does not mean you have forever to file a lawsuit. A statute of repose limits your time to file a lawsuit if you have not discovered an injury within a specific amount of time.
For example, the statute of repose for medical malpractice claims is ten years from the date of injury. If you discover an injury 12 years after the malpractice occurred, the statute of response prevents you from filing a lawsuit.
The statute of repose in product liability cases is 15 years from the date of purchase. After that date, you cannot sue a manufacturer if the product caused harm or injury.
However, as with other situations, it is best to consult an El Paso personal injury lawyer about deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. The fact and circumstances of a case could impact the statute of limitations. An experienced lawyer understands how to apply all factors that impact the filing deadline.
Should I Settle My Personal Injury Claim or File a Lawsuit?
The decision to accept a settlement offer or go to court can be challenging. Many factors impact the chance of winning a lawsuit at trial. Even with a strong case built on solid evidence, you can never be sure what a jury will decide.
Therefore, your lawyer analyzes every aspect of your case. They calculate how much your case is worth based on your economic and non-economic damages. Your attorney discusses the weaknesses and strengths of your case and how those factors impact your chance of winning a jury trial.
After discussing all options with you, your attorney advises a strategy that gives you the best chance of receiving maximum compensation for injuries. The decision of whether to accept a settlement offer is up to you. However, it is wise to have legal counsel before accepting a settlement offer.
If you sign a settlement agreement, you give up your right to file a lawsuit and take your case to court. You also waive all further liability for your claim. Therefore, you need to ensure the amount you accept for your personal injury case is fair.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our El Paso Personal Injury Lawyers
Calculating the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit can be complicated. Don’t risk missing a filing deadline. The legal team with Mission Personal Injury Lawyers can help you every step of the way. Contact our El Paso personal injury attorneys as soon as possible after an injury at (915) 591-1000 to discuss your case.