What is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim in Texas?
A statute of limitations is the deadline within which a lawsuit must be filed for civil cases or charges must be brought forth for criminal cases. Any lawsuit must be filed within a certain amount of time or the time has essentially run out and any legal claim is no longer valid.
As an example, let’s say you were involved in a car wreck three years ago and your vehicle was totaled. Today you decide to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party in order to pay for a new vehicle, but in the state of Texas the statute of limitation for damage to personal property is two years. Because the statute of limitation passed one year ago, you would not be able to file a lawsuit.
The purpose of the statutes of limitation are to protect the public interest. They are meant to ensure a timely and diligent prosecution of claims and to allow them to be brought forth while supporting evidence is still readily available. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, “Statutes of limitation […] in their conclusive effects are designed to promote justice by preventing surprises through the revival of claims that have been allowed to slumber until evidence has been lost, memories have faded, and witnesses have disappeared.”
While the statute of limitations may seem inconvenient for those wishing to file a claim, it is meant to prevent lawsuits from appearing out of thin air many years after the events have happened.
The statutes of limitation are not a one-size fits all approach, but rather vary depending on the circumstances and the specific lawsuit to be filed and commonly range from one to four years in the state of Texas.
Cases involving libel, slander, or malicious prosecution are subject to a one-year statute of limitations.
A two-year statute of limitations is the norm for cases involving trespass to personal or property rights, which includes injury to personal property, personal injury, and wrongful death cases. Each of these types of lawsuits involve some type of trespass, whether to land, personal property, or to the body.
Texas imposes a four-year statute of limitation for lawsuits concerning contractual obligations. These are often matters relating to someone’s action or inaction when a contract is in place, such as a refusal to perform an agreed upon service, which ranges from breach of contract, debt collection lawsuits, fraud, or breach of fiduciary claims.
These civil lawsuit deadlines are meant to ensure a timely approach to filing a claim, and the clock normally starts to tick when the claim arises or from the moment which a plaintiff has a basis to sue. In some personal injury lawsuits, a medical problem may not arise until much later, and the statute of limitations would begin from the point that they learn of the injury and its cause.
Regardless of the statute of limitations, it is always a good idea to take action earlier rather than later when it comes to these matters. If you’re considering filing a lawsuit or claim in Texas, you should promptly speak with an attorney who can help you better understand the statute of limitations for a particular case and create a plan of action to ensure that any case brought forward is built on a strong foundation while the evidence is still fresh.
The team at Fears Nachawati handles all manner of civil lawsuits, ranging from product liability, medical malpractice, personal injury, and much more. Don’t wait to take legal action. Schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our team by calling us at (866) 705-7584, or by visiting the offices of Fears Nachawati located throughout the great state of Texas, including in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.