Time Limits For Filing Lawsuits In Texas
What are the two preliminary questions any potential plaintiff is faced with at the outset of a lawsuit?
- How were you harmed?
- When were you injured?
The first question is one of sheer common sense, but the second is a ticking time bomb. All jurisdictions require different classes of lawsuits to be filed within a certain time period. Some states, like Texas and Montana, refer to this time period as the “statute of limitations.” Other states have different, and sometimes obscure, terms for this period (such as Louisiana, which calls the time in which to file suit a “prescription”).
The general reasoning behind limiting the time in which to bring suit has to do with the concepts of preserving evidence, the transitory nature of witness memories and the broad sense that, after a certain amount of time passes, it is unfair to bring an action against another party.
In general, most torts (civil wrongs such as negligence) in Texas must be brought within two years from the date of injury. There are some exceptions; fraud is four years, and libel and slander are one year.
Generally, in Texas, actions must be commenced within two years from the date of the alleged malpractice/negligence of the health care provider. There are exceptions that can extend the statue. These exceptions are fact-specific and should be discussed with an attorney to see if your situation meets the legal requirements to extend time.
The limitation on minors by statute for those under the age of 12 is their 14th birthday. Case law permits suits to be filed within two years after the minor reaches the age of majority (18), meaning by his or her 20th birthday.
Cases involving contracts in Texas must be brought within four years.
Whatever action you are contemplating, be it in tort or contract, against a corporation or governmental entity, if you fail to file your lawsuit or give the proper notice within the respective time periods, you may be barred from bringing your claim. Because of the built-in complexities of time limitations in our legal system, it is strongly recommended that you get legal advice on your claim as soon as possible.