Every personal injury case in Texas has a time limit. This is called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for a personal injuries is two years from the date of the accident. But there are some ways that the statute of limitations may be extended. This is known as “tolling.”
Temporary Absence from the State: One way a limitations period may be tolled is by the defendant’s temporary absence from the state. For example, let’s say you were involved in a car accident in Dallas, Tx on May 1, 2014. Under the general rule, the statute of limitations will expire on May 1, 2016. However, if the other driver had spent any time out of the State of Texas, then that time is added on to the the time period in which the other driver is out of the state. In this example, if the other driver went on vacation outside of Texas and didn’t return to Texas until five days later, then those five days would be added onto the deadline. This would make the new deadline May 6, 2016.
Fraud: The time limit can also be extended if the defendant committed fraud in concealing his identity. If you are in a car accident and the other driver gives you a false name, then the limitations period is extended for the time it took for the fraud to be revealed. However, you must be careful in these situations. The time period is only extended for the time period where you should have discovered the true identity of the other person, not when you actually discovered his identity. Likewise, you will not be granted an extension for that period of time that you failed to use reasonable diligence in discovering the true identity of the other driver.
Minority of the Plaintiff: Under Texas law, the time period for a minor to file a claim for personal injury is tolled and does not begin to run until the the child turn eighteen years old, or is otherwise declared an adult. For example, if a child is involved in a car accident when he was 16, then the child may bring a claim up until the child’s 20th birthday. But this is only for the child’s personal claims, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, physical impairment, etc. Tolling would not apply to medical expenses incurred while the child was under 18 since those claims actually belong to the parents of the child. Additionally, a child may be precluded from bringing a claim at all if it was settled and approved by the court while the child was a minor. This is called a friendly suit.
Weekends and Legal Holidays: If the last day of the limitations period falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, then the deadline is extended to the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.
This is just a brief summary of some of the ways the deadline might be extended in a personal injury case. But never rely on these extensions by waiting until the last minute. Even though you might have two years to settle your case, so many things can happen during that time that can effect the value of your case. You are always better off getting a personal injury attorney as early as possible.