No matter the type of civil case, there is a deadline to file your claim. Known as the statute of limitation, these laws prevent you filing a lawsuit after a certain amount of time has passed. While statutes of limitation can adversely impact those injured by the actions of another by preventing them from filing a claim, the United States Supreme Court held that these statutes are in the public’s best interest 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.”
How Long do I have to File my Claim?
The amount of time you have to file your claim is dependent upon a number of factors, not the least of which is the type of case you have. Texas Law provides that certain claims are governed by either a 1-year, 2-year, or 4-year statute of limitation.
Suits governed by the 1-year statute of limitation include:
- Malicious Prosecution
As a general rule, the 2-year statute of limitation is the default for most personal and property right claims. Suits governed by the 2-year year statute of limitation include:
The most generous statute of limitation is the 4-year statute of limitation. These claims generally involve contractual relationships, as well as certain real property transfers. Suits governed by the 4-year statute of limitations include:
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty
- Debt Collection Claims
- Specific Performance of Contract for Conveyance of Real Property
- Breach of Contract
Why do I need to contact a lawyer early?
Although you may have years to bring your claim, it is often necessary to investigate your claim prior to filing suit. In the context of a personal injury claim, we will want to obtain the relevant accident reports, medical records, billing records, and wage verification information. While ordering medical records seems like an easy process, obtaining medical record can take months. What is more, depending on the severity of your injuries, it may take multiple months of treatment before there is a full understanding of the extent of your injuries.
Because the statute of limitation can prevent you from bringing a claim and bar your recovery, it is important to engage a lawyer early in the process.
How do I know when the Statue of Limitation has Expired?
As a general principle, a statute of limitation begins to run on the date of injury. For example, in the context of a personal injury, auto accident, you would have 2-years from the date of the accident. On the other hand, if you are suing for breach of contract, you have 4-years from the date of the breach to file your suit. While this concept seems rather straight forward, there are certain factors which can extend, or toll, the statute of limitations.
The fact-specific factors which can extend the applicable statute of limitation are complex. This is why it is important to speak with our lawyers as soon as you believe you have been injured as a result of another’s conduct—no matter when that injury happened. By consulting with a lawyer, you can have a conversation regarding your specific situation, as well as the relevant factors regarding the statute of limitation. The statute of limitation is complex – do not make the decision yourself as to whether the statute of limitation has expired or not.
What happens if the statute of limitations does not allow for a full investigation into my claim?
While your lawyer will want to fully understand your injuries and relevant facts prior to filing a lawsuit, this is not always possible. There are times when those who have been injured do not contact us until weeks or even days before their statute of limitation expires. This is not a problem.
The lawyers at the Ted Smith Law Group are well-equipped to guide you through the investigation and filing of a lawsuit no matter how much time is left on your statute of limitation. Our attorneys have the training and experience necessary to quickly evaluate a potential lawsuit and obtain the necessary information to file a lawsuit—even quickly if necessary. Contact us today and let us know how we can help you.
A native of Fort Hood, Texas, Raymond L. Panneton has built a national practice with deep Texas roots. Raymond is the Managing Attorney of the Ted Smith Law Group. He focuses on Personal Injury and Business Law.
For more information about Raymond, please read his full biography here