One of the most important factors when determining whether a case can be brought before a court of law is the statute of limitations. This is a legal rule that limits how much time can pass before a lawsuit is filed. Each infraction of the law comes with its own statute of limitations, so what does the law say regarding personal injury lawsuits in Houston, TX? Does it vary from one kind of personal injury to another?
We’ll take a closer look at the statute of limitations on personal injuries and examine what exactly qualifies as a personal injury. If you have been injured and believe your injuries were caused by others’ negligence, we strongly encourage you to call our offices as soon as possible. Acting quickly is essential, even when you’re well within the statute of limitations.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Houston, TX?
The Texas civil code, section 16.003, establishes the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. You must file your lawsuit within two years of the date of injury. The state sets this limit in order to ensure that cases are brought to court quickly so that they may be resolved in a timely manner. The longer you wait to file, the less likely you are to have valuable evidence that can support your case.
The 2-year limit also prevents frivolous cases from many years ago from being dragged into court. It still provides ample time to consider your case and collect evidence. The proceedings and trial may extend past the 2-year deadline, provided you’ve filed your suit in time. There are a couple of situations where the statute may not apply, however. Let’s examine those.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
The Texas code provides a few exceptions to the statute of limitations. One less common case is when a business’s trade secrets have been misappropriated. In these cases, you have three years from when the malicious act was discovered to file a claim. Another exception is provided in 16.0031, which allows for the timer to start running after a person has died or has informed a defendant of a report due to asbestos or silica-related injury.
When children are the victims of sexual violence, including sexual assault, trafficking, or prostitution, the statute is extended to 30 years. Overall, the majority of personal injury cases will adhere to the 2-year standard. There are a couple of other situations where the 2-year rule does not apply.
Cases Against the State
If you suffered a personal injury while on state government property, the statute of limitations is reduced to just six months. The same is true if you were injured due to the actions of a government employee away from government property. You cannot simply sue the State of Texas for such cases. You will need to file a suit against the specific office of government responsible for the property or employee.
Extensions to the Deadline
It is possible to extend the deadline in some cases. For instance, the Supreme Court of Texas gave courts leeway to extend the statute of limitations on a number of types of cases due to the disruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Emergency orders can likewise act as extensions.
More common extensions include the disability clause. For example, if an injury left you unable to function independently, a court may waive the time you were disabled from the 2-year countdown. Similarly, minors cannot represent themselves in civil suits. If you were injured as a minor and your parents did not file suit, you may be able to afterward on your own when you turn 18.
What Situations Qualify for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you believe your case falls within the statute of limitations, the next question to consider is whether your injury is actually one that can be taken to court. There are a variety of situations that may merit a civil case for damages. Let’s take a look at the most common ones and examine what types of cases are not eligible for a lawsuit.
Motor vehicle accidents that lead to injury may be eligible for a civil suit. However, there are a few variables to consider. First of all, personal injuries are likely to be settled out of court through the drivers’ insurance companies. Nevertheless, you may disagree with the settlement awarded to you and wish to pursue it further in court. Another factor that must be considered is whether you were at fault for the crash.
Since Texas is not a “no-fault” state where both parties share equal blame regardless of the circumstances, the court will need to determine to what degree each party was at fault. If you are found to be at least 50% at fault, you will not be able to receive any damages. If you are only found to be slightly at fault, then your damages may be reduced by the percentage the court considers your responsibility.
Faulty or Dangerous Products
The buyer of a product has a reasonable assumption that the product should be safe to use. Manufacturers cannot simply ship out dangerous products or faulty products that could injure someone. Nevertheless, this does happen. Just a few years ago, poorly made electronic cigarettes were catching fire and exploding in people’s faces. These types of cases merit civil suits and are the mechanism by which we keep bad actors out of the market.
However, bear in mind that how you used the product will come into question. If you were using a product inappropriately or in a way it was not intended to be used, and this action led to your injury, the court may decide that you were at fault and not award any damages. Each case requires careful examination to determine whether it’s worth taking to court or not.
Premises liabilities are cases where an individual was injured on someone else’s property. While these cases often involve businesses, they may also apply to private homes as well. Even private property is subject to some regulations that protect visitors. Door-to-door salespeople are permitted to approach your property and knock on your door, and they’re entitled to a reasonable expectation of safety. This is why you can be sued if your dog rushes out the door and bites someone.
As with vehicular accidents, business liability insurance or homeowner’s insurance may intervene and attempt to settle out of court. In addition, you’ll need to prove that the injury was due to negligence on the part of the property owner. All of the aforementioned cases adhere to the standard 2-year statute of limitations.
Injuries sustained while on the job may entitle you to compensation. The “on the clock” rule applies here, which means that you cannot file a suit due to an accident sustained while on your way to work or on your way home from work. However, if you were sent off site and sustained an injury elsewhere, that still counts as a workplace injury.
Get a Free Consultation
If you’re not sure if your injury qualifies for a civil lawsuit, call Abraham Watkins in Houston, TX. We offer free consultations to anyone who is interested and look forward to helping you win your battle.