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What Is the Statute of Limitations on Injury Settlements in Texas?

All states impose deadlines, or statutes of limitations, on civil and criminal claims. These deadlines serve to expedite the legal system and make the process fair for both parties. If a claimant misses the statute of limitations before filing an injury claim in Texas, he or she will most likely lose any right to compensation. The Texas courts take statutes of limitations very seriously, with limited exceptions.

What Are Statutes of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a time limit. It is a deadline by which all claimants must file their claims within the state, or else forfeit the right to file forever. States pass these laws to encourage injured parties to bring their lawsuits as soon as they can, ideally while important evidence is still intact. Without a statute of limitations, an injured party could potentially wait until eyewitnesses forget what they saw or something happens to evidence that could have helped the defendant to file.

Although statutes of limitations have exceptions, for the most part, the courts expect a claimant to file by the given deadline. Courtrooms in Texas will most likely refuse to hear a case that someone brings after the statute of limitations has passed. If the courts do accept the case, they may dismiss it after the defendant uses the missed deadline as evidence against the plaintiff. It is important for claimants to understand and obey their statutes of limitations during personal injury cases if they wish to have valid claims.

What Is the Deadline in Texas?

Texas’ statute of limitations on personal actions exists in the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Chapter 16. This statute gives a victim two years from the date of suffering an injury to bring a lawsuit within a state civil court. The clock starts ticking on the day the accident occurred unless the victim did not discover his or her injuries until a later date. In that case, the deadline would not begin until the date of discovery. Texas has different deadlines according to the type of civil claim.

  • Personal injury: two years
  • Personal injury from sex crimes: five years
  • Wrongful death: two years from the date of death
  • Property damage: two years
  • Libel or slander: one year
  • Fraud: four years
  • Trespass: two years

Texas law states that a person must bring a lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death no later than two years from the day of the cause of action. The cause of action is either the injury or the death depending on the case. A claimant who believes he or she is eligible for an injury settlement in Texas must file a claim for financial recovery by the deadline or else lose the right to receive any compensation. A few exceptions, however, could change the deadline for a claimant.

Exceptions to the Rule

Texas lawmakers allow some exceptions to the standard statute of limitations in special cases. Bringing a civil action for an asbestos-related injury, for example, will come with a longer deadline since it can take decades for a victim to recognize injuries or illnesses stemming from asbestos or silica exposure. For these cases, the courts give two years either from the date of the injured party’s death or the date upon which the injured party serves an official complaint on the defendant.

Cases involving minor victims may also have unique deadlines. Most courts will allow an injured minor to toll, or extend, the statute of limitations until he or she turns 18. The child’s parent, however, can choose to file the claim on behalf of the child at any time. Another common exception is a civil case involving criminal charges. Most victims can wait until the completion of criminal cases against the defendants to bring civil charges. Every situation is unique. Claimants should consult with attorneys to learn their specific statutes of limitations.

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