What is the statute of limitations for a personal injury case?

Each state has established time limits for filing a personal injury lawsuit. These time limits are called statute of limitations. In some states, the type of personal injury claim may also affect the time limit. Claimants who do not file their claim prior to their state’s deadline will lose their right to sue for compensation. The statute of limitations for injury claims range from one to six years.

What is the "Discovery of Harm" Rule?

In some cases the state of limitations may not begin until the moment a person could have reasonably known of their injury. This most frequently happens in a medical malpractice case where a mistake happens but the patient may not realize it until some years later. For instance, if a plaintiff has surgery and the surgeon leaves a sponge in the patient’s body but the patient does not realize it until years later. Most likely in this case the statute of limitations would not begin to run until the day on which the surgeon's mistake was "discovered" by the patient, rather than the actual date of the surgery.

It can be very difficult to keep track of the statute of limitations for each state. Because state laws vary, it is important to talk to an injury lawyer for more information about your state’s statute of limitation laws.

General information about statute of limitations for the state of Texas is below:

  • Fraud claims must be filed within 4 years.
  • Professional malpractice, including medical malpractice, must be filed within 2 years.
  • Libel cases must be filed within 1 year.
  • Product libel cases must be filed within 2 years.

Tolling of the Statute of Limitations

Under some conditions the state of limitations may be tolled. If this happens the statute of limitations has been stopped for a set period of time for a specific reason. For instance, in some states the statute of limitations may be tolled if the victim is a minor, if they are incompetent, or if the defendant has filed bankruptcy and the automatic stay is in place.

How does tolling work in Texas? In Texas the statute of limitations begins on a minor’s eighteenth birthday, with the exception of medical malpractice cases. For medical malpractice, if the minor is less than 12 years of age, the medical malpractice claim must be filed by the minor’s fourteenth birthday.

The information provided above is for the state of Texas only. If you live in another state the statute of limitation laws for your state may vary.

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