If you believe you have a valid legal claim against another person or business, you cannot hold on to it forever. You must file the lawsuit within a certain period of time or lose your right to try and recover compensation in court. Every state including Texas sets time limits, known as statute of limitations, for how long you have to file certain types of lawsuits. This benefits both you and the individuals or companies that may get sued.
Waiting too long to file a claim does you no favors, as you likely lose out on evidence and people’s memories if the events become clouded. It also protects other parties who would otherwise have to live in fear of lawsuits their entire lives or duration of their businesses. However, the statute of limitations is not the same for every type of claim.
For more information about how long you have to file a lawsuit, contact the Houston personal injury lawyers of The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at (281) 283-8500.
Texas Statutes of Limitations
If you were injured in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, then you may have a personal injury claim. Texas gives you two years from the date the claim arises, which is usually the date of the accident that caused your injuries, to file suit.
If you were injured due to a medical malpractice issue, which is when you are provided negligent or intentionally incorrect medical care, then you have two years to file your lawsuit. The claim may arise the day of a medical treatment or the date you are made aware that you received substandard care and were injured by it.
You may have suffered injuries due to a defective product. This can be a product that was poorly designed, incorrectly manufactured, or did not come with the necessary warning labels. This type of claim is based on product liability and also has a two-year statute of limitations.
How Statutes of Limitations Work
A statute of limitations is like a clock that begins to tick when the legal claim arises. This is a legalistic way to say the clock starts running when you are injured or when you discover your injury following the negligent act. Some courts or attorneys will also say this is the date or point of accrual. In many situations, this moment is clear. If you are in a car accident, you can name the date and time your legal claim arose.
However, more complicated circumstances can raise questions as to when your cause of action originated and when your right to file a claim begins and runs out. Your accrual date may be deferred from the actual date of your accident. This is often an issue when there is a delay in discovering your injuries after an accident or a delay in finding out you receive substandard medical care. Known as the discovery rule, your statute of limitations does not begin to run until you know or should have reasonably known that you had a legal claim.
A second situation known as fraudulent concealment also delays the start of your clock. This occurs when the person or business who injured you intentionally tried to conceal the wrongdoing. Due to the other party’s actions, your claim does not accrue until you discover or should have discovered the deceit or that you have a legal cause of action.
If you are unsure of when your claim arose, contact an experienced Houston personal injury attorney right away.
Tolling a Statute of Limitations
There are certain situations that allow you a longer time period to file a legal claim. This is known as tolling of the statute of limitations. In essence, the clock stops running for a while. The law hits pause and gives you more time. When the clock begins to run again depends on the reason it stopped and your specific circumstances.
A common example of tolling is when your claim arises when you are under 18 years old. In this case, the clock is paused until you turn 18 and then it begins to run on your birthday. Another issue is when you are declared incompetent, imprisoned for a felony, or you were engaged in a good-faith attempt to settle the issue with the other party.
However, a statute of limitations cannot be tolled forever. The statute of repose provides a final limitation. Under Texas law, a person who has a legal claim based on a personal injury must file within 10 years. A claim for an injury based on product liability has a total duration of 15 years from the date you bought the product.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer for More Information
If you have been injured and you believe you have a legal claim against a person or business, do not hesitate to reach out to the experienced personal injury team at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at (281) 283-8500.
During your free consultation, we can review the initial facts of your situation and determine when your legal claim arose and how long you still have to file a lawsuit. If your situation is complicated, we can investigate further. Our main priority will be to ensure you do not run out of time to seek compensation in court.