How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Texas?

The “statute of limitations” governs the length of time you have for filing a personal injury lawsuit.  As long as you file your personal injury lawsuit before the statute of limitations passes, you may pursue your claim.  If you don’t file your personal injury lawsuit within the prescribed timeframe, however, your claim will, in all likelihood, be dismissed.

As simple as this may appear, sometimes, the facts complicate the analysis.  Some examples may help.  

How the Statute Might Apply

Personal Injury LawyersImagine a car hits a pedestrian in the crosswalk.  Imagine the pedestrian suffers a broken leg.  Immediately, an ambulance takes them to the hospital for treatment.  The time of the injury is clear.  The statute of limitations begins to run on that date of injury.  However, sometimes, injuries are not immediately known.  Imagine a patient undergoes surgery, and the physician inadvertently leaves a sponge inside the body.  It may take days or weeks for the infection to develop and become evident to the injured party and their treating physician.  While it is important to understand the concept of the statute of limitations, it is equally important to leave the calculation of the time from injury to filing to attorneys.  As with many areas of the law, different facts can lead to different results.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases

The “statute of limitations” refers to a law, or “statute,” which governs the amount of time you have to file your personal injury claim

Courts measure the statute of limitations from the date of the incident or injury. In Texas, civil law governs the time limit for filing your complaint for civil lawsuits, which include personal injury lawsuits, defamation lawsuits, and professional malpractice. Texas libel and slander laws, for example, have a one-year statute of limitations. Injury to persons and property, however, have a two-year statute of limitations, under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003 (a).  Similarly, wrongful death cases in Texas have a two-year statute of limitations.

The Public Policy Behind the Statute of Limitations

The idea behind the statue limitations is that individuals should not be forced to defend against claims well after an incident has taken place. By encouraging timely pursuit of claims of injury, the evidence is most likely still available. The United States Supreme Court has spoken on the statute of limitations, stating the statute of limitations, “in their conclusive effects are designed to promote justice by preventing surprises through the revival of claims that have been allowed to slumber until evidence has been lost, memories have faded, and witnesses have disappeared.” Order of Railroad Telegraphers v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 321 US 342 (1944).

Injured?  Don’t Wait!

If you sustained an injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and expenses related to the accident.  There are a broad number of types of injury that may be the basis of a personal injury claim. These include car accidents, truck accidents, bicycle accidents, and accidents as a pedestrian.

There’s no need to spend any time guessing whether or not you have a claim, or whether the statute of limitations has passed.  Elissa I. Henry Law Firm, PLLC offers free consultations by phone. We offer consultations in both English and Spanish, at no charge.  If you are wondering if you have a claim, contact us today to discuss your injury.  Let our experience work for you.

Additional Reading

4 Things to Do if You Are Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Free at Last: The Fate of Green Card and Visa Holders Detained at U.S. Airports