Most people realize when they suffer an injury. However, in some cases, you might not know you suffered injuries until years later. Texas statutes limit the length of time you can sue for injuries. Thus, you should contact an attorney as soon as you learn that you suffered injuries from a product, accident, or another incident. If the statute of limitations runs or if any exceptions do not apply to you, you could lose the opportunity to recover damages for your injuries.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury
The statute of limitations states that you have two years after the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. If the incident resulted in wrongful death, you also have two years from a person who died from their injuries.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
If you only realized a person’s or company’s actions or inactions resulted in personal injuries more than two years after the incident, you should still contact a personal injury attorney. The laws provide several exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury.
A product liability case is one where you have a claim against a manufacturer or a seller because you suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of a defective product. You may have up to 15 years after the date of the sale of the product to bring a claim against a manufacturer or seller.
Additionally, if the manufacturer or seller warrants a product for longer than 15 years, you have that many years to bring a claim. For example, if the manufacturer of Widget A states that the useful, safe life of Widget A is 20 years, you must bring the lawsuit within before the 20 years is over. The 15-year limitation effectively extends by five years.
However, there are always exceptions, and that holds true here. The exception to the exception is if you were exposed to the product 15 years after the manufacturer sold the product, and the exposure caused your injuries, and the symptoms were not severe enough for a reasonable person to connect the symptoms to the product.
For example, if you purchased Widget A 10 years before a 20-year warrant ends, it falls within the 15 years of the original exception. You must bring your lawsuit within the original 15 years of the manufacturer’s or seller’s sale date.
Asbestos and Silica-Related Deaths
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of exposure to asbestos or silica, you must take legal action on or before the earlier of:
- The date your loved one died because of injuries and/or illnesses caused by the asbestos or silica; or
- The date you notified the defendant via a physician’s report regarding exposure or under the rules of Multi-District Litigation.
The statute of limitations also has exceptions for those who suffered certain abuses.
Injuries as a result of the following have a 30-year statute of limitations:
- Sexual assault of a child;
- Aggravated sexual assault of a child;
- Continuous sexual assault of a child or a disabled person;
- Certain sexual trafficking of a child;
- Prostitution of a child;
- Indecency with a child; and
- Certain trafficking of a child.
For adults, the statute of limitation is five years for those who suffered injuries from:
- Sexual assault;
- Aggravated sexual assault;
- Trafficking of a person; and
- Compelling prostitution.
If you lost a loved one because of any of the above crimes, the statute of limitations starts running on the date of the person’s death.
A legal disability precludes a person from taking legal action. For example, a minor child cannot institute a lawsuit in Texas. The statute of limitations does not start running until the disability is “cured.”
For example, the “disability” of being a minor “cures” when the minor turns 18.
The other legal disability that Texas recognizes is to be of unsound mind. If a doctor finds that the person’s condition that caused the unsound mind is no longer present and that the person is of sound mind, then the legal disability ends, and the statute of limitations starts to run.
Is it Worth Bringing a Lawsuit More than Two Years After an Incident?
It depends on how the incident affected you physically and emotionally. In many cases, it is worth it, especially if your injuries still affect you. You could recover several types of compensatory damages. In some cases, you might also recover punitive damages—a form of compensation the court uses as the defendant’s punishment.
The court orders compensatory damages in the form of economic and non-economic damages in an attempt to make you whole again.
Compensatory damages include:
- Reimbursement of hard costs, such as medical expenses, funeral expenses, and burial expenses.
- Reimbursement to your insurance company if you used it to cover medical expenses related to the incident.
- Replacement of personal property.
- Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity.
The court considers these economic damages because someone comes out of pocket for them—often you.
You can also recover non-economic damages—they do not have a monetary value. However, the court usually orders non-economic damages when injuries result in long-term or permanent disabilities or the death of a loved one.
Non-economic damages include:
- Loss of quality of life.
- Loss of consortium and/or companionship.
- Loss of use of a body part or bodily function.
- Amputation of a limb or digit.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
- Inconvenience if you have to pay someone to do the chores you usually do, such as grocery shopping, cooking, home repair and maintenance, lawn maintenance, and house cleaning.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of another’s actions or inactions, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Do not take the chance that the statute of limitations will run out.