Personal Injury Law | Accident Injury Attorneys
If you were injured by another person, it is important that you take care of your injuries as soon as possible, but it is also important that, after this is accomplished, you contact a lawyer if you believe you may not be at fault for the injury. This is because you have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas.
Statute of limitations
The statute of limitations is the statutory rule that determines how long you have to file a claim with the court after you are injured. In the usual case, the limitation period starts when the injury occurs. In Texas, except for defamation cases (which this article does not deal with), the limitation period is two years.
Sometimes, you may know that you are injured but you may not know who or what is the cause of an injury, or you may not even know that an injury has occurred, until a long time after the act which causes the injury (that is, beyond two years after the injury occurs). In this situation, under the “discovery rule,” a lawsuit can be filed within a defined period of time after the injury is discovered, or reasonably should have been discovered.
The Texas Supreme Court has stated in Wagner & Brown, Ltd. v. Horwood that the discovery rule is “a very limited exception to statutes of limitations”, to be applied when an injury is inherently undiscoverable and objectively verifiable. “An injury is inherently undiscoverable if it is, by its nature, unlikely to be discovered within the prescribed limitations period despite due diligence.” And what is “due diligence”? In Southwest Olshan Found. Repair Co., LLC v. Gonzales, the Court of Appeals defined it as the “[k]nowledge of facts, conditions, or circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to make an inquiry . . . is equivalent to knowledge of the cause of action for limitation purposes.”
Legal assistance is needed to answer these questions
In addition to the discovery rule, sometimes the statute of limitations is “tolled,” which means that something has stopped the statute from running for a certain length of time. This “something” may be a minority (that is, the victim of the injury was underage when the injury occurred) or mental incompetency (that is, the victim was not competent mentally when the injury occurred).
In Texas, except for medical malpractice, when a minor is injured, the statute of limitations is tolled at the time of injury and does not begin to run until the minor turns 18 years of age. For medical malpractice cases, when a minor under the age of 12 is injured, the statute is tolled, but a lawsuit must be filed by the time the minor turns 14 years of age.
Personal injuries (whether by car accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, and the like) are a frequent, albeit unfortunate, occurrence. In addition to the pain and suffering they cause, the legal consequences may be significant. To make sure that you receive the compensation you’re entitled to, in the time period allowed by the law, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced lawyer immediately, so that he or she will begin a thorough examination of all aspects of the situation (medical and legal) to determine liability.