Understanding Statutes of Limitations
15 July 2016
While every crime, offense, or accident has a statute of limitations within which you must file your lawsuit, the laws vary from state to state. What might have a 1 year statute of limitation in Kentucky may have a 6 year statute of limitations in Tennessee. Each state also has varying clauses and cases for extensions that could affect the amount of time your have to file your claim. The differences are vast and complicated, so before you take any legal action you should consult the aid of your personal injury lawyer.
Filing Lawsuits With Your Personal Injury Lawyer
Before you can make any claims or file any paperwork, you must understand what a statute of limitations is. Essentially a deadline, it prevents you from being sued thirty years after an accident, crime, or offense has occurred. Your lawsuit must be filed within this time frame, which varies vastly from state to state, otherwise it will certainly be dismissed. A statute of limitations is not a suggestion, it is a hard deadline that is negotiable only in very few situations. Check with your lawyer and legal resources before taking any legal action.
The Intricacies of Texas Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Law
In the state of Texas, most personal injury claims have a 2 year statute of limitations. Whether this is an auto accident or medical malpractice, most of these cases must be filed within 2 years of the accident date.
However, the following circumstances and clauses can extend the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Texas:
Cases Involving a Minor
In cases involving a minor as the victim, the statute of limitations will not be put into place until their 18th birthday instead of the day the crime was committed. This means that if there was an car accident where a 14 year old was injured, they would have an additional 4 years tacked on to the statute of limitations to file their claim. This clause is common in most states, but not standard across the board.
“Discovery of Harm” Clause
The second way a personal injury lawyer can help you extend the statute of limitations is by invoking the “discovery of harm” clause. This allows the statute of limitations to begin at the moment you realize you were hurt or that the defendant was to blame, instead of the incident of the accident. This can be helpful if the injury wasn’t noticeable or had prolonged effects. For example, if you were diagnosed with lung cancer caused by asbestos but you had unknowingly lived in the asbestos-infested apartment over twenty years ago, the standard statute of limitations would have passed. However, with “discovery of harm” you have from the moment your doctor tells you your cancer was caused by asbestos to file your claim. If you knew that your apartment was infected and chose to ignore it, this clause is void and you have the standard statute of limitations.
Fleeing The State
Another instance in which a statute of limitations may be extended is when the defendant leaves the state. The length of time they spend outside the state’s borders is added to the length of the original statute of limitations. This means that if a doctor has a malpractice case but leaves the state for a two year fellowship, the victim has an additional two years to file their lawsuit. Again, while this is common in most states it is not federal law and policies will vary depending on state legislation.
Looking for a Personal Injury Lawyer in San Antonio?
Over 70,000 lawyers are licensed in Texas, but only 2.5% of those lawyers are certified in personal injury law. Josh Davis is one of those few personal injury lawyers and has been repeatedly recognized as the best in the state. If you were involved in an accident or suffered harm at the hands of someone else and are located in the San Antonio area, we can help you find closure and return to life before the accident.