Despite the apparent differences between a dairy product and a form of litigation, both items have expiration dates that dictate the maximum amount of time available before they are no longer usable. In the case of personal injury, this amount of time is known as a statute of limitations, and varies in length of time by state. In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. That means that with those two years, you (or your attorney) are permitted to file a lawsuit in the state’s court system for an injury suffered as a result of a dog bite, automobile collision, slip and fall, or other accident.
After that window has passed, the Texas court system will most likely throw out the case and you will lose any chance of compensation for the losses you have incurred because of someone else’s negligence. This time frame is strictly enforced, but there are certain situations in which the time may be extended. For example, the statute of limitations can be paused or “tolled” if the injured party was a minor at the time of the incident (except in claims of medical malpractice involving minors under 12, where the lawsuit must be filed before the minor’s 14th birthday). For minors involved in a personal injury case, the usual two-year statute will not begin until the minor turns 18; thus, the individual will have until their 20th birthday to pursue legal action.
Another reason the statute can be extended is if the injured party was mentally incompetent at the time; in this case, the two year statute will pause until the individual regains mental competency. The final common exception is known as the discovery rule, wherein the injured party cannot pinpoint a specific occasion that the injury occurred because it happened over time. Exposure to asbestos is the textbook example of this type of exception, but many times this exception can be applied in claims of medical malpractice. That is, it is not always possible to discover an injury until well after the incident that caused injury occurred. However, it is important to note that when filing a suit, the individual must be prepared to prove that the personal injury was not discovered or reasonably could not have been discovered within the two-year statute.