Certain offenses can only be prosecuted within a certain time limit. This is termed as the Texas "statute of limitations," and it exists to protect people from being convicted via proof that can deteriorate over time. However, for a personal injury victim, this means that delaying a civil lawsuit is out of the question. Filing a complaint is at the utmost importance if you want recovery of damages for the alleged crime.
Accidents of all sorts can leave deeply traumatic scars on the lives of those who’ve endured them. Sometimes, the injuries may cause permanent disability or disfigurement, but even in minor cases, the emotional and physical stresses associated with accidents are a bit more than what most people can swallow.
Thus it is only natural for a party to seek reimbursement for any damages that they sustained due to someone else’s negligence. However, if you need to get your voice heard, don’t delay matters, and instead have your attorneys file your personal injury lawsuit in a court of law.
This article will lay down all the details about the statute of limitations in Texas.
The statute of limitations is a regulation dictating the time limit for filing a lawsuit against an offender. Many crimes are exempt from this limit, and in most cases, the law only applies to cases like personal injury lawsuits. In most of cases, this limit is somewhere between 1 and 6 years, however, a two-year limitations period is the most predominant.
Here’s a brief rundown of the features of the statute of limitations:
To cut it short: this statute is not a constant, however, it gives a limited window to people for filing their personal injury claims.
The statute varies across states, and hence the deadline of filing a lawsuit for your personal injury claim will depend on where the accident happened. These deadlines are not as rigid as some believe at first but they are serious.
Failing to file your claim within the state of limitations deadline will most likely result in your case being dismissed for deadline violation. However, exceptional cases can get you an extension, but it is better to file the case within the legal deadline to avoid any problems.
The best approach is to get in touch with a competent personal injury lawyer so that you can proceed with proper counsel at every step and not waste time when there’s none to be wasted.
No generalizations can be drawn regarding the statute of limitations in various states. In some states such as Louisiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee, the limit is the lowest – capping at merely one year. However, on the other extreme of the scale, the limit is 6 years in Maine.
The statute of limitations in Florida outs a deadline of four years, whereas, in Texas and Colorado, it is two years. Thus the limit is not universal, but the consequence of not filing a lawsuit in time will be the same: rejection.
The deadline also varies based on the type of claim that someone files. An explicit example of this would be the policy for filing personal injury cases in Colorado. Normally, the state has a two year limit for filing any claim for personal injury or negligence accident. However, in the case of a motor vehicle accident, the statute will get a one-year extension.
These limits, hence, are based more or less on the type of case that you wish to file. It is a good idea to stay in touch with a competent lawyer so that you know exactly how to proceed and at what pace.
So when does the clock start ticking? What is the starting point for the statute of limitations period? The time starts precisely at the moment when you were involved in the situation that rendered filing the lawsuit necessary. Thus from the moment that an accident happens, you are bound by the statute of limitations.
Starting from that day, you will have a limitation period of at max 6 years (in Maine) or at the least 1 year to file a lawsuit. It is hence advisable that you reach out to a professional lawyer as soon as possible after an accident to get fair compensation and not be ignored due to a technicality (missing a deadline).
As noted in the preceding sections, the deadlines are not rigid but rather subject to flexibility. Certain exceptions may help you get some extra time, allowing you to file a lawsuit even if the hour is up.
The most prominent exception is the “discovery rule,” whereby a case can be reconsidered even after the passage of the deadline because something else was brought to light.
For instance, if the victim was not aware of the harm done to him/her due to someone’s negligence (i.e. a condition that only expressed itself later on but can be traced back to the accident), then they may file the case even after the statute of limitations deadline.
The same may apply if the victim was not aware at the time that the responsible party’s actions caused a certain suffering (evidence unveiled later on perhaps). In short, if something new comes to light that can add a new angle to the case, then the deadline may be extended to entertain the said case.
Another exception that only applies in a couple of states is that if the defendant is the state after the said incident, the time-lapse for the statutes of limitation will pause until the said party returns. This is, of course, not as simple to prove but lawyers can dig out the evidence (with independent investigators) to help you out here.
Thus if a potentially at-fault person was absent from the state for a year, you'll have a year more to file your claim.
The deadline can also be extended if the victim was disabled or is considered a disabled individual, a minor, or mentally unstable. However, not all of these cases apply in all states, so be sure to check in with a well-informed lawyer to avoid wasting precious time.
On the counter-point, in some cases, the deadline may be shortened such as when you wish to file a claim against a government entity or an employee working for a government department.
So why is there a deadline to begin with?
Most people feel that it is unfair to them that they’re being forced to act within a time frame to receive justice. However, the legal system is intended to protect both sides of a lawsuit – the plaintiff and the defendant, because both of them have legal rights.
In some cases, the evidence needed to prove someone’s innocence may be lost over time. Thus the law requires personal injury victims to proceed with a lawsuit as soon as possible – which they would want to do naturally. The defendant should also have the right to gather evidence to defend themselves.
After a long time, the defendants may lose evidence, or at least some parts of it, needed to prove their innocence (in case they are wrongly accused).
Moreover, such cases are looked up by the justice givers with dubious eyes – why would someone delay seeking a claim for damages for their sufferings?
It is generally believed that such dormant cases are usually built around vendettas rather than the intention to secure justice.
Thus a statute of limitations ensures that both parties get their due rights.
Understanding the statute of limitations is tricky, to say the least, especially with so many variations across state lines. The best practice in this regard would be to seek legal consultation following an accident, as soon as possible.
Delaying matters is not in your best interests as we pointed out in great detail in the previous sections.
The law exists to protect the interests of the public in general, we must abide by and act within the legal frame to seek our goals. Getting fair compensation for your losses is your right but acting within the proscribed deadline is your duty. Having a personal injury attorney to handle your injury settlement negotiations helps keep your claim within the limitation period.
Give us a call today, consultation’s free!