How Does the Texas Statute of Limitations Work?
You only have so long to file a civil lawsuit. Learn how the Texas statute of limitations works in relation to personal injury cases.
Statutes of limitations, in general, limit how long you can file a lawsuit in regard to various civil cases.
For example, they govern:
- Personal injury claims
- Criminal acts
- Legal malpractice
- Verbal contracts
- Debt collections
And many others.
Different states allow you various amounts of times for the exact same situations.
Case in point:
In Texas, you have 2 years from the date of a personal injury to file a civil lawsuit. Otherwise, you can never pursue it in court again.
In Wisconsin, that time limit is 3 years. If you get hurt in Maine, you have 6 years to do the same.
Some Cases Where the Deadline Starts Much Later Than You Think
Now just because it appears you don’t pursue compensation for your injury more than 2 years after it happened doesn’t mean it always works that way.
Let us explain a few situations so it makes more sense:
When it comes to the discovery rule, the clock to file your lawsuit doesn’t start running until you should reasonably have discovered you were injured.
For example, take a look at asbestos and how it causes mesothelioma and other illnesses. Experts didn’t discover and recognize these effects until decades after the widespread use of asbestos.
In cases of chemical and toxin exposure, this rule often applies.
Is the Injured Party a Minor?
If your 14-year-old son or daughter was seriously injured in a car accident, they actually have until 2 years after their 18th birthday (their 20th birthday) to file a civil lawsuit. Many states also follow this rule. The one exception to it is that if your minor child was harmed through medical malpractice before the age of 12, they must file a suit by 14.
Sexual abuse of a child is one situation where the statute of limitations extends. For example, criminal charges can be filed until 10 years after the victim turns 18 (until their 28th birthday). A civil lawsuit could be filed up to 5 years after the child turns 18 (until their 23rd birthday).
But, that depends on the exact description of what happened. And it also depends on the exact laws that were in place at the time of crime.
Law is complex, but most firms offer free consultations.
So, you can always discuss the facts of your situation with a personal injury attorney to find out whether you have a valid case at no cost to you.
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Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.