It is always a good idea to consult with us as soon as possible after an accident that results in injury or death. This will allow us to gather important evidence from the accident scene. But the most important reason to consult with a personal injury attorney quickly after an accident is because as soon as the accident happens, a clock begins ticking on the deadline to file your claim. The deadline is called the statute of limitations. If you miss the deadline, you can be forever barred from making your claim and receiving compensation you deserve.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is the law that precludes claims after a certain time passes after an injury or death. The time period varies depending on the state where the injury or death occurs and the type of accident.
Texas Negligence Statute of Limitations in Injury Cases
Claims for injuries resulting from car accidents or workplace accidents are negligence claims. In Texas, the limitations period for a negligence claim is two years. The clock starts ticking when the negligent act causes the injury, not when the injured person learns of the injury.
Texas Negligence Statute of Limitations in Death Cases
When car accidents or workplace accidents result in death, two types of death claims can be made by the decedent’s family, survival and wrongful-death. Survival cases involve claims for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased person prior to his or her death. Wrongful death cases involve claims for the suffering and damages of the deceased person’s spouse, children, and parents.
Survival claims for deaths resulting from negligence have the same limitations period as injury claims, two years. If no more than two years has passed since the date of death, the expiration of the limitations period is paused, or tolled, until the earlier of (1) the date an executor or administrator qualifies or (2) 12 months after the death of the decedent.
In a wrongful death case there are separate limitations periods for the decedent’s underlying claim and for the beneficiary’s wrongful-death claim.
The decedent’s injury claim must be filed within two years. If at the time of the decedent’s death, two years have passed since the negligent act and no suit had been filed by the decedent for his or her injury, the wrongful death suit is barred. But if decedent filed a personal-injury suit within two years of his or her injury, the statutory beneficiaries have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful-death claim. The statutory beneficiaries must file a wrongful-death claim within two years from the date of death.
Claims by Minors, Asbestos and Silica Claims, and Medical Malpractice
Calculating the correct limitations period becomes more complicated in some cases, such as when the claim is made by a minor, when the injury or death results from exposure to asbestos or silica, or in medical malpractice cases. In cases involving these issues, it is important to consult with us as soon as possible. As always, the information above is a short summary to help you understand the law.
This does not represent formal legal advice. Call our office for a free legal consultation for more detailed information about your case.