There is a time limit known as the “statute of limitations” for filing any type of personal injury lawsuit in Texas. In most cases, victims harmed by another’s negligent actions or their failure to act have two years to bring a claim. The failure to do so within the allotted time will typically cost you your right to obtain any amount of compensation.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Texas
Under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code section 16.003., the two years designated for personal injury victims to file a lawsuit typically begins on the date the accident occurred. It is usually in your best interest to begin the claims process relatively soon after your injuries have occurred. However, that does not mean that you should resolve your claim before you have reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI) or understand the total value of your case. If you have suffered serious harm, most personal injury lawyers would advise that you wait to settle a claim until you fully recover and know the full implications of your injury.
If your claim is against a Texas state or local government employee or agency, you must file a formal claim with the government unit within six months of the accident. Since the timeline and filing requirements are more stringent for personal injury claims against the government, it is vital to speak to an attorney immediately after the accident to ensure your rights are protected.
What If You Miss the Two Year Deadline?
In general, there’s no way around the statute of limitations. If you wait until after the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim has expired, the party you are attempting to sue will typically file a “motion to dismiss.” Pointing out that the statute of limitations has run will almost always result in your case being dismissed unless a rare exception applies to your claim entitling you to more time.
The personal injury statute of limitations in Texas was established to streamline the legal process. That way, lawsuits are not brought to the courts several years after the incident occurred and after much of the significant evidence has been lost.
Exceptions to Texas’ Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Several scenarios may temporarily stop the clock and extend Texas’ deadline to file a personal injury claim. These circumstances can include:
- The injured person is under the age of 18, or as described by Texas law — under a legal disability
- The injured person is not of sound mind
- The party who allegedly caused the injury leaves the State of Texas.
The clock will begin running once the injury victim turns 18 or becomes mentally competent or once the party returns to Texas. The period of the responsible party’s absence will not count as part of the two-year statute.
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