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Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

What Is A Statute of Limitations?

Virtually all legal claims are subject to a statute of limitations, meaning that by law the act of making a legal claim against another is time sensitive. Each type of legal claim has its own statute of limitations, within which the claim must be brought before the court or else the individual with the claim forfeits the right to initiate a lawsuit for that claim in the future.

The length of a statute of limitations varies depending on the type of claim that is being brought before the court. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to impose a sense of fairness and timeliness in the resolution of legal disputes after a victim suffers an injury or harm or is discovered by the victim.

What Is The Statute of Limitations for My Personal Injury Claim in Texas?

When a person suffers an injury due to the actions or negligence of another, it is considered a personal injury. Under Texas law, personal injury, professional malpractice/negligence, products liability, and wrongful death claims generally have a statute of limitations of two years from when the injury occurred. However, libel and slander claims have a statute of limitations of one year.

Statutes of limitations generally run from the date that the injury is suffered. However, there are certain situations where it is not possible to know that a victim has been injured until sometime after the fact. When this is the case, a discovery rule applies. According to the discovery rule, which is provided by Texas case law, an injured party accrues a legal cause of action, and thus the statute of limitations begins, when the injured party learns of facts that indicate the existence of the injury. The discovery rule isn’t often used in personal injury cases specifically, since injuries generally are readily apparent when they are sustained.

Tolling A Statute of Limitations

There are certain circumstances that can toll, or stop, a statute of limitations clock for a certain amount of time. In this case, the statute of limitations is effectively paused. A few examples of when a statute of limitations can be tolled for a personal injury claim include:

  • Injury is suffered by a minor. The statute of limitations for a personal injury for a minor tolls until the  minor’s eighteenth birthday.
  • Victim becomes mentally incompetent for a period of time. When a person is rendered mentally incompetent during a statute of limitations, the statute of limitations can be tolled until the person recovers.

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