Imagine that someone hurt you in an accident 10 years ago, and you decided yesterday that you want to pursue a personal injury claim to collect damages. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of circumstances, you're probably out of luck. You can't pursue a damage claim in civil court after so many years have passed due to Texas statutes of limitation.
Statutes of limitation serve to limit the amount of time within which a plaintiff can pursue a lawsuit for damages. Once this time limit has passed, plaintiffs are generally forever barred from being able to seek compensation.
Here's a review of the most pertinent statutes of limitation that apply to different kinds of civil lawsuits in Texas:
Personal injury cases: Plaintiffs have a two-year time limit to file general personal injury lawsuits. However, in some scenarios, this limit extends to five years, but this longer limitation does not apply to cases relating to traffic accidents, premises liability and slip-and-fall incidents.
Libel and slander cases: The statute of limitation for libel and slander cases is one year.
Fraud cases: Fraud cases benefit from a longer statute of limitation of four years.
Personal property damage cases: Cases relating to personal property have a two-year statute of limitation.
Professional malpractice cases: The statute of limitation relating to medical malpractice and other types of professional malpractice is two years.
It can be difficult to accurately determine the exact statutes of limitation that will apply to a specific legal matter. In fact, because some cases involve multiple claims and allegations that incorporate the violation of different laws, a variety of statutes of limitation could apply to a single matter. Then, there is the difficulty of deciding the exact day on which the statute of limitation clock begins to run. Due to these complexities, plaintiffs are well-served to seek the opinion of an experienced civil litigation attorney as soon as they suspect they have a potential claim for damages.
Because the shortest statute of limitation for personal injury cases above is only two years, plaintiffs are encouraged to investigate their legal options as soon as possible following any kind of injurious accident.