Texas Civil Statute of Limitations
According to the state, plaintiffs filed more than 1,618,000 new civil cases in Texas courts in 2019. If you are thinking about bringing a civil lawsuit in the state of Texas, you should know there are time limits on when you can file a claim. If you wait too long, you may be barred from bringing a lawsuit under a statute of limitations.
The Lanier Law Firm is well versed in civil statutes of limitations in Texas. We have vast civil trial experience and are proud to have given clients serious and sound legal representation for more than 20 years.
Statutes of Limitations Defined
A statute of limitations law dictates the amount of time that can elapse before a party files a legal claim against another party. The exact time period depends on the type of claim and when an injury occurred, was discovered, or should have been reasonably noticed.
Civil statutes of limitations govern when a private citizen can bring a lawsuit. Common types of civil lawsuits include personal injury, medical malpractice, breach of contract, fraud, and libel. In some special situations, the time limit can be suspended temporarily. This is called tolling of the statute of limitations.
The rules for the time period on starting a criminal prosecution are set out in criminal statutes of limitation. Only government actors can bring a criminal case.
Statutes of Limitations by Number of Years
Under the Texas Civil Statute of Limitations, parties have anywhere from one to five years to file a claim. In general, the statute of limitations starts to run at the time an injury occurs. A legal cause of action accrues — comes into existence — on the injury date. So the calculation of the statute of limitations time period starts the day of the injury.
Lawsuits with a One-Year Statute of Limitations
Texas gives individuals and businesses one year after an alleged libel, slander, or malicious prosecution to bring a legal action against the party that caused their injury. Texas also allows a one-year limitations period for “breach of promise of marriage.” Anyone bringing such a claim must file the lawsuit before one year passes.
Libel and slander are both forms of defamation.
When a lawsuit is brought with an improper purpose and without grounds or probable cause, it is a malicious prosecution. This type of lawsuit may be civil or criminal.
Lawsuits with a Two-Year Statute of Limitations
In Texas, if you have suffered a personal injury, trespass, or harm from a wrongful death, you have two years to file a lawsuit.
Personal injury lawsuits are filed when the actions of another person cause you to suffer injuries. For example, a claim against a health care provider in Texas for improper or substandard treatment that caused an injury would qualify as a personal injury claim. If you want to file a personal injury claim, the Texas Civil Statute of Limitations says you must file within two years of the injury date or two years from the date that medical treatment or hospitalization is completed.
Furthermore, minors under the age of 12 must file a claim by the age of 14. And subsection (b) of the law provides for a statute of repose that states “all [health care liability] claims must be brought within 10 years or they are time barred.”
A person must bring suit within the two years following the date of the injury or event for the following:
- trespass for injury to the estate or to the property of another
- conversion of personal property
- taking or detaining the personal property of another
- personal injury
- forcible entry and detainer
- forcible detainer
In Texas, family members may bring wrongful death action when a third party is responsible for the death. Under the Texas Civil Statute of Limitations, the family has two years from the date of the death — not the date of an accident or negligent act — to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Lawsuits with a Four-Year Statute of Limitations
A person must bring a lawsuit for debt, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, or contract breach in Texas no later than four years after the day that the cause of action accrues.
If someone owes you a debt and you want to sue to force them to pay you, typically, you have four years from the date the debt was due to file a claim.
If you have been harmed by someone’s fraudulent actions, this type of lawsuit must also be filed within four years of the date the fraud caused you injury.
A person with a fiduciary duty must act in a way that will benefit someone else (the beneficiary), typically financially. If a fiduciary breaches this special duty, they will be held responsible for injuries to the beneficiary. They will be forced to pay damages and give back any profit they received from their wrongdoing.
For breach of any contract for sale, an action must be initiated within four years of when the breach occurs. Regardless of whether the aggrieved party knew about the breach, the time limit starts on the date that the breach occurred.
Under Texas law, contract parties can reduce the time period to file a breach lawsuit to not less than one year. However, they cannot extend the time period set out in the statute of limitations.
for help in determining how long you have to file a lawsuit. Our lawyers are experts in interpreting Texas Civil Statutes of Limitations.