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Legal Blog

Texas Personal Injury: What’s the Discovery Rule?

If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, you probably heard of the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations in Texas is the amount of time you have to file suit after an injury.

Generally, you have two years to file a lawsuit after suffering harm. But sometimes, it’s not clear when an injury occurs. Serious medical conditions may take years to develop after an accident. As a result, Texas Law has an exception called the discovery rule.

If you have been injured in Houston or anywhere in Harris County, Texas it’s important to discuss your options with an experienced lawyer. Contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at 281-283-8500 or submit a request online to schedule a free, no-risk consultation.

The Discovery Rule Can Extend the Statute of Limitations

The discovery rule allows you to file suit up to two years after the point at which you become aware of your injuries. For example, if you were exposed to an unsafe work condition more than two years ago and there is evidence the conditions caused these problems, you might still be able to sue your employer – even if you only developed medical problems recently.

Texas Supreme Court Clarifies the Discovery Rule

Not long ago, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on a case, Schlumberger Tech. Corp. v. Pasko, with similar facts to the example used above.

After an employer failed to provide a worker with adequate protective gear, the employee was doused with toxic fracking chemicals. In this work-place accident, he didn’t sue his employer until more than two years later.

The worker argued that the discovery rule should apply because he developed cancer because of his exposure to the chemicals and was not detectable on the day of the injury.

The Discovery Rule Does Not Always Apply

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled that the discovery rule did not apply in this case. The decision turned on an important fact: the worker was severely burned when he came into contact with the fracking chemicals. Because of this, the court ruled that the injury was discoverable on the day of the accident.

Therefore, even if cancer or another medical condition develops afterward, the diagnosis cannot be considered the moment of discovery. Under these circumstances, the statute of limitations began on the day of the accident, not when someone discovers the other medical condition.

Act Fast to Protect Your Right to Compensation

This result may seem unfair for the injured worker. How could he be expected to seek adequate compensation for an injury whose full extent was not knowable?

Under the court’s ruling, the worker could have been compensated for his burns but then barred from seeking compensation for his cancer, just because the cancer took time to develop. However, the Texas Supreme Court does not rule on cases based on what is fair. Rather, they look at what the law demands.

According to the court’s ruling, the discovery rule is an exception for plaintiffs that have no idea they are seriously injured until long after an accident. So if you are injured and experiencing any medical conditions, you should seek legal advice and compensation as soon as possible.

For help with this, call The Krist Law Firm, P.C. today at 281-283-8500 for a free, no0risk consultation. Let an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer explain your rights an all of your legal options.