What's the Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury in Texas?
Personal injuries are something no one wants to face, but when they do occur, the damaging party might be civilly liable. With that in mind, if you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, you might want to know what your options are, and that journey begins by understanding the statute of limitations.
In the state of Texas, there’s a limit to how much time can pass from when you sustain an injury until you file a claim in court. Knowing those limitations can help you understand what paths are still open to you.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Texas?
In the state of Texas, the general statute of limitations for personal injury is two years. That’s two years from the moment the incident occurs. Unless an exception is present, if more than two years pass, a civil claim cannot be made. That’s why it is important to discuss your case with an attorney sooner rather than later to explore your options and take prompt action when necessary.
Keep in mind that this is the statute of limitations for civil cases. Criminal cases are another matter.
While two years is the standard for the statute of limitations, there are exceptions. In fact, the state clearly recognizes six specific exceptions. As you go through them, remember that these are exceptions for civil cases involving personal injury. Civil cases under other categories have different statutes of limitations and different exceptions, as do criminal cases.
The first major exception applies to minors. In the state of Texas, minors are not deemed competent for making legal decisions, therefore a minor cannot be held according to the standard statute of limitations.
So the exception for minors is that their statute of limitations is two years past turning 18.
To clarify, if a minor is injured and wants to make a claim, they have until their 20th birthday to file the claim. This is counter to the traditional measure of time where the statute of limitations depends on when the event occurs. For a minor, the date of the event is not a part of the statute of limitations; only the minor’s age (particularly when they become legally recognized as an adult) matters.
Sex crimes represent a different set of exceptions. For an adult victim, the statute of limitations lasts for five years from the date of the incident.
For minors, things are a bit different. The statute of limitations still begins when the minor becomes an adult. Additionally, the statute is extended to 10 years. This means that someone who was injured in this way as a minor has until their 28th birthday to file a civil suit.
But there are additional exceptions. The statute for a minor can be extended to 20 years if certain criteria are met. Those criteria involve aggravated kidnapping of the minor (with intent to commit a sex crime), performative sex acts with a minor, and burglary (with intent to commit a sex crime or commit aggravated kidnapping).
Discovery is a bit of an uncommon exception, but it does sometimes apply. If a court failed to discover personal injury because it was “inherently undiscoverable,” then the statute of limitations begins counting from when the discovery was missed.
In other words, if court procedures prevent the legal discovery of an injury, the claimant has until two years after that issue to file a civil suit for that particular incident.
Medical malpractice is an exception that runs in the other direction. The other exceptions extend the time allowed to file a suit, but medical malpractice is inverted.
The standard statute of limitations for medical malpractice is still two years from the date of the incident. The difference is that if another exception could apply, the medical malpractice exception limits extensions.
Regardless of other exceptions, a medical malpractice suit cannot be filed more than 10 years after the date of the incident.
Maritime incidents are the most complicated cases of all. This is because maritime laws apply, and those can involve a mix of state, federal, and international rules.
The exceptions will depend on where the incident took place (e.g., on a dock vs. in the ocean) and the specific claim being made. There are too many variables to list every possibility here, but more often than not, maritime exceptions extend the statute of limitations to three years from the date of the incident.
Asbestosis and/or Silica
The last exception applies to injuries related to asbestosis and/or silica. In any case, the statute of limitations is still two years, but the start date for counting down is not when the victim is exposed to the substance.
Instead, the statute starts from the date of death (if applicable) or from the day an asbestosis or silica report is served.
If you have any questions regarding civil cases, personal injury, statutes of limitations, or anything else pertaining to the law, contact McGilberry & Shirer today.