Texas Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Common Personal Injury Statute Of Limitations Is 2 Years
In the State of Texas, the Statute of Limitations on most personal injury claims is two years from the date that the cause of action accrues. See Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 16.003. A cause of action typically “accrues” at the time which an injury caused by another should be realized. In most cases, this is that date that the injury occurs, however, there are several exceptions to this rule as discussed below. The Statute of Limitations is a time period defined by law during which you must file a lawsuit or your cause of action against another person or corporation will be forever barred.
Exceptions to the 2 Year Time Limit to File an Injury Lawsuit
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations for Children in Texas
The law generally affords extra protection to children. They are deemed to not be mature enough to make responsible legal decisions for themselves. As a result, the two-year statute of limitations does not begin to run on the date of the injury. The two-year statute of limitations is tolled until the minor reaches the age of majority (18). Thus, when a minor sustains an injury, their statute of limitations generally does not run until their 20th birthday. However, this time can be shorter in medical malpractice claims due to tort reform restrictions. See the “medical malpractice claims” section below. This tolling provision also does not apply if the injury results in death of a minor.
Sexual Crimes Against Minors
In addition to the above, there are certain other statute of limitations for sexual assault and abuse claims against minors. Under the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 16.0045(a), A person must bring suit for personal injury not later than 15 years after the day the cause of action accrues if the injury arises as a result of conduct that violates certain provisions of Sections 21 and 43 of the Texas Penal Code that prohibit:
- sexual assault of a minor
- aggravated sexual assault of a minor
- indecency with a minor
- promoting prostitution of a minor
- continued sexual assault of a minor
- sexual trafficking of a minor
Sex Crimes Against Adults
Sexual crimes against adults are given a longer statute of limitations, but not as long as minors. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 16.0045(b), A person must bring suit for personal injury not later than five years after the day the cause of action accrues if the injury arises as a result of conduct that violates certain provisions of Sections 21 and 43 of the Texas Penal Code that prohibit:
- sexual assault of an adult
- aggravated sexual assault of an adult
- promoting prostitution of an adult
- sexual trafficking of an adult
Claims Subject To the Discovery Rule
Certain types of injures are not readily apparent. If the injury is inherently undiscoverable–that is it is unlikely to be discovered within the two-year statue of limitations by the exercise of due diligence–a person may be able to claim the protection of the discovery rule. If the court finds that it applies, then the statute of limitations is tolled until the time upon which the injury should have been discovered int he exercise of due diligence. This, however, is a vary narrowly-tailored exception to the rule which is not intended to be applied often. See: Computer Assocs. Int’l, Inc. v. Altai, Inc., 918 S.W.2d 453, 455 (Tex. 1996).
Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice cases have many rules and exceptions that can make determining the statute of limitations difficult. The general rule you should assume if there is time is the two-year statute. However, you should never wait until the last minute because there are a number of advantages to filing early in these cases. The minority rule can extend medical malpractice cases. However, the discovery rule has been abolished by statute in Texas with regard to medical malpractice claims. Rule 4590i did away with the discovery rule for medical malpractice cases. Now, one must assert a violation of the Texas Open Courts provision of the Texas Constitution in order to extend the statute of limitations. You should seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible in medical malpractice cases to see what rules apply to your case.
Personal Injury Claims Against First-Party Automobile Insurance
When you file an uninsured motorist claim, an under insured motorist claim or a personal injury protection claim, you are filing a claim against your own insurance company pursuant to a written contract. If they fail to pay you after you have made a presentment of your claim to them, you have the right to sue them for breach of contract and/or a declaratory judgment action. The statute of limitations for breach of contract and the declaratory judgment is general four years from the date of the accident. The personal injury protection claim statute of limitations is often defined by your insurance contact. They are commonly three years, but you should always check your own contract for changes or alterations.
Statute of Limitations for Maritime Claims in Texas
Maritime accidents have numerous statutes of limitations that may apply under state and federal law. The will vary depending upon whether your case is on shore or offshore, on a waterway, dock or the ocean and other factors. Depending upon how and where your accident occurs, you case may fall under State personal injury law, state worker’s compensation laws, the federal Longshore and Harbormen’s Act, or the Jones Act. For a full explanation, please visit the following link for a full explanation of the Statute of Limitations in maritime claims.
Asbestosis and Silica-Related Injury Claims
Pursuant to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 16.0031, a cause of action for personal injuries or death caused by asbestosis or silica related illnesses has an extended statute of limitations. The cause of action accrues on the earlier of:
- the date of the exposed person’s death; or
- the date that the claimant serves on a defendant a required report.
This means that the 2 year statute of limitations will not begin to run until the earlier of the two above events occurs
Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.