Seeking justice is not something you can afford to put off indefinitely. Fail to act in time, and the Texas statute of limitations could come into play. Your timer may run out if you wait too long to seek compensation.
The statute of limitations often comes into play in personal injury cases.
Do not allow ignorance to be why you missed the compensation you deserved. Continue with this article to learn more about the statutes of limitations that the state of Texas has set for various personal injury cases.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a rule set by the government. The rule in question sets a time limit for taking certain types of legal actions.
For instance, you may believe that someone owes you compensation for something they did. You may be planning to file a lawsuit against that person, but you want to tend to other matters first.
It is your call if you want to hold off on pursuing legal action against the other party, but you should remember that the law likely does not provide you with a perpetually open window to act. At some point, that window will close, and you will no longer be allowed to sue the other party for whichever negligent act they committed that also affected you.
You may be wondering why establishing a statute of limitations is even necessary in the first place. After all, if someone’s negligent actions harmed someone, shouldn’t the affected party be given as much time as they need to pursue compensation?
If you are curious to learn why statutes of limitations exist, we have provided the detailed explanations below.
A Statute of Limitations Preserves the Quality of Evidence
First off, the statute of limitations exists to maintain the quality of evidence.
In a car accident case where witness testimony is an important piece of evidence, getting the relevant parties in court as soon as possible is crucial. That is the best way to ensure that the witnesses will still provide accurate retellings of the incident. You do not want the outcomes of cases hinging on accounts provided by witnesses several years after the incident took place.
The statute of limitations can also preserve the quality of physical evidence involved in a particular case. Certain evidence may deteriorate over time, so it is best to examine it thoroughly shortly after the authorities collect it.
A Statute of Limitations Encourages Prompt Action
Next, statutes of limitations are in place, so plaintiffs act diligently. Courts generally do not want plaintiffs to drag their feet when filing lawsuits and other legal actions. If you intend to sue someone, the court wants you to do that as soon as you are ready.
A statute of limitations essentially serves as a mechanism that keeps the courts moving. They can resolve cases in a timelier manner thanks to that rule.
A Statute of Limitations Prevents Harassment
Authorities also establish statutes of limitations to prevent harassment. Without those statutes, a person could theoretically draw out the legal process in an attempt to get another party tangled up in a nightmarish ordeal.
Dealing with that lawsuit could bleed the other party dry financially. Eventually, they may become unable to fight the accusations lobbed against them because they have no more money.
No one should abuse the law in that manner. Statutes of limitations make sure that the abuse does not occur.
Texas Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases
Now that we know more about the importance of statutes of limitations, we can turn our attention to the specific time limits that apply to specific scenarios. We can now go in-depth on the time limit for personal injury cases.
According to Texas law, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. The timer starts from the day the incident occurred.
You must always be mindful of that when discussing the course of action you want to take with your lawyer. As much as possible, you do not want to go beyond that time limit.
So, what will happen if that time limit expires? In all likelihood, the courts in Texas would ignore your filing if you went past the statute of limitations for your personal injury case. You would miss any potential compensation as a result.
Missing out on compensation in a personal injury case is a big deal. Individuals can suffer serious injuries because of their involvement in a car accident.
The impact generated during a car crash can leave bruises behind. It is also powerful enough to break bones and cause soft tissue injuries.
In some cases, car accident victims may even sustain spine and brain injuries. Spine and brain injuries are especially devastating because they can have long-term effects on your quality of life.
Treating those injuries could end up costing a fortune. If you are not compensated for your injuries via the lawsuit, then you may sustain financial losses that you can never recover from.
Can the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases Be Extended?
The state of Texas has determined that its statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. By failing to file a lawsuit before that time limit is up, you are accepting the likely outcome that you will not receive compensation of any kind.
Does that mean that there is absolutely no way for you to recoup compensation if you miss that deadline? Well, there are certain exceptions that you can potentially take advantage of. Let’s talk about those exceptions in greater detail below.
You Were Unaware That You Were Injured
The timer for the statute of limitations in personal injury cases typically begins on the day of the accident. We say “typically” because it does not always work out that way.
It is possible that the injury you sustained did not show up right away. That could be the case with a traumatic brain injury. Some brain injuries do not present symptoms until days or even weeks after the initial incident.
In a situation such as that, the statute of limitations will not start until the day they discovered the injury.
This exception may not apply if you avoided going to the doctor following the accident. The defendant could argue that your injury is not related to the accident if you decided not to visit the doctor right away. They could claim that your injury is the byproduct of a different incident.
You will be better off visiting the doctor multiple times instead of waiting for your symptoms to show up.
You Were Under a Legal Disability
Texas law also allows individuals to cite “legal disability” as a reason they could not file their personal injury lawsuit within the two-year time limit. There are two types of legal disabilities in the Lone Star State.
The first type of legal disability is related to age. According to state law, the statute of limitations will not start until the plaintiff in the case turns eighteen years old. Simply put, a person must first be legally recognized as an adult before the statute of limitations applies to them.
An individual who is of “unsound mind” is also considered under a legal disability. That means the statute of limitations will also not start for them. The timer for the statute of limitations will only start ticking once that person is deemed competent from a mental standpoint.
The law also indicates that individuals cannot tack one legal disability to another to avoid starting the timer for the statute of limitations. Furthermore, they will not suspend the timer for the statute of limitations after it starts, even if the plaintiff presents another disability.
The Other Party Left the State of Texas
They may extend the statute of limitations for a particular personal injury case if the defendant leaves Texas. The timer stops the day the defendant leaves the state, and it will not start again until they return.
You need to let the court know if the defendant in your case leaves the state. Otherwise, the defendant could run out the clock and bar you from receiving compensation.
How is Compensation Determined in a Personal Injury Case?
The goal in many personal injury cases is to identify the person responsible. Determining who is to blame is important because negligent individuals need to be held accountable. On top of that, assigning blame is a crucial step in personal injury cases because it directly affects how much compensation the affected parties may receive.
Texas follows the principle of modified comparative negligence to determine how they hand out compensation in personal injury cases. Under the modified comparative negligence rule, the plaintiff does not need to be completely blameless to receive compensation. Even if the court rules that the plaintiff is 20% responsible for the accident, they are still entitled to receive compensation from the defendant.
However, the amount of compensation that a plaintiff receives can change based on how much blame they are shouldering for what happened. If the court determines that the plaintiff is indeed 20% to blame for the incident, they will reduce their compensation by that same amount.
There is one other rule that can affect how much compensation you can receive. Any claimant who is more than 50% to blame for the incident is not eligible to receive compensation, according to the laws of the Lone Star State.
As you can imagine, figuring out how much blame certain parties should bear in a personal injury case can be a complicated endeavor. You will need a skilled lawyer fighting on your behalf to ensure that you are not falsely attributed blame for an accident you did not cause.
What Other Cases Have Two-Year Time Limits in Texas?
Personal injury cases are not the only ones that adhere to a two-year time limit. In this section, we will discuss the other cases that follow that same statute of limitations.
Property Damage Cases
Perhaps you were able to walk away from the car accident without sustaining any injuries. Unfortunately, you cannot say the same thing about your car. Your vehicle may be completely unusable after the accident.
Furthermore, valuable items you stored inside your car may have also been damaged during the incident. You will need them to compensate you for all those losses.
Suing the other party for property damage is an option. Make sure you file the lawsuit within two years of the accident date so you can be properly compensated.
We expect medical professionals to always take good care of us. That is why it feels like such a betrayal when their negligence leads to our injuries.
Medical malpractice cases can be tricky to pursue, but you cannot allow the offending party to get off scot-free. Partner with a lawyer to go after that medical professional and hold them accountable for their negligent actions.
Negligent actions can have dire consequences. It is bad enough when they cause injuries and/or property damage, but the unfortunate reality is that negligent actions can lead to significantly worse outcomes.
There is a chance that a negligent party may even cause the untimely death of your loved one. You must demand compensation if someone’s negligence led to wrongful death.
In wrongful death cases, the timer often begins only after the affected party dies.
The statute of limitations that the state of Texas has set for personal injury cases urges plaintiffs to be more proactive. Allow us at Barrus Injury Lawyers to offer our legal expertise if you want to get the ball rolling in your personal injury case. Contact us today so we can discuss your case and plan our next course of action.