Statutes of Limitation

       A statute of limitations limits the amount of time that a person or entity has to file a lawsuit.  After the statute of limitation is over there is nothing that a person can do to right a legal wrong that has been done to them.  There are many different statutes of limitation for different types of lawsuits.  Also, there are exceptions and sometimes unclear rules on when and how to calculate when a statute of limitation begins or ends.  Sometimes, there a statute of limitation can be paused under certain circumstances.

       The most important things for any person to know about statutes of limitation is that the rules are not always straightforward and no one should ever assume that they are either out of time or have plenty of time to file a lawsuit.

       There is not only one “statute of limitation”.  Rather, there are many different statutes of limitation for different cases and situations.  This, combined with the fact that there are times when statutes of limitation are paused or “tolled”, makes it difficult and dangerous for someone without legal training to decide for themselves if a lawsuit is too late to file or not.

       These are some of the most common statutes of limitation in Texas.  Be aware that there are others and that sometimes more than one statute of limitation might apply to a given situation.  Again, don’t look at the list and assume that there is plenty of time or none.  Talk to a lawyer.

  • Legal Malpractice: 2 years
  • Medical Malpractice: 2 years
  • Personal Injury: 2 years
  • Fraud: 4 years
  • Shareholder Lawsuit: 4 years
  • DTPA: 2 years
  • Libel: 1 year
  • Slander: 1 year
  • Personal Property Injury: 2 years
  • Product Liability: 2 years
  • Breach of Contract: 4 years
  • Tortuous Interference with Contract: 4 years
  • Specific Performance on Real Estate Contract: 4 years

       The clock on a statute of limitation starts from the date that the incident took place. For example, for a personal injury claim, this would be the date of the accident or, for a crime, the date that a crime was committed. Once these time limits have been reached then a lawsuit can no longer be filed or a person can no longer face prosecution. If statutes of limitation were not set, then many civil lawsuits or criminal proceedings may encounter unnecessary delays in completing the process.

       There are some circumstances when the time limitation period does not run, which include when the person accused is not in the state or after an individual has been indicted and the indictment is pending. In Texas, Article 12.01 et seq. of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure states the statute of limitation for different circumstances.

Some statutes of limitation

       Statutes of limitation do not exist for murder, manslaughter, and some sexual crimes that involve children. The limitation period is ten years for certain theft cases that involve real estate, forgery, theft by public servants, injury to elderly or disabled people and sexual assaults that do not involve children.

       The statute of limitation is seven years for the misapplication of fiduciary property, identity theft and using fraud to gain government documents. Robbery, burglary, kidnapping and some theft charges have a limitation period of five years and other felonies three years. Misdemeanors have a limitation period of two years.

       The statute of limitation set for a personal injury case provides two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit through the Texas civil court system. This includes defective products, vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, prescription errors and slips and falls as well as many other circumstances when an accident was not the victim’s fault.

       If you are seeking information on a civil statute of limitation in a specific circumstance it can be found in Title 2, Subtitle B, Chapter 16 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

Statutes of limitation can be difficult to understand

       It is not easy to understand statutes of limitation and the time limits vary significantly depending on the situation. The only way you can be sure that you know what affects you is by seeking advice from a lawyer who will have the relevant information available. If you are wondering why the prosecutor is taking so long to indict you then it may be possible to avoid prosecution if the statute of limitation has expired. A lawyer is the only person who will know and understand your specific situation. You may have been seriously injured in a car accident but have not been in the situation to assess your entitlement to file a compensation claim. First, you will have to know if you are still entitled under the statute of limitation to file such a claim.

       If you wish to know more about the statute of limitation you should contact Foster & Foster or another lawfirm that has a solid reputation in your community.  Contacting an attorney should be done without any unnecessary delay to avoid the expiration of a statute of limitation.