Slip and fall accidents may sound like common, simple injury cases. However, these accidents can happen almost anywhere and often result in injuries and severe pain. If you were injured in a slip and fall, it is important to understand how long you have to file your case. To help you understand your case, the Dallas slip and fall injury lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm explain the statute of limitations for slip and fall cases in Texas. If you were injured in an accident, call our law offices today to schedule a free consultation.
Reasons for a Slip and Fall Accident
Slip and fall cases occur for a number of reasons. Usually, the common defects and issues that result in slip and fall accidents only occur because the property owner left their premises unreasonably dangerous. These common conditions and defects are often the source of slip and fall or trip and fall injuries:
- Wet floors
- Slippery surfaces
- Uneven floors
- Cracked and worn sidewalks
- Broken railings
- Poor lighting
There are also plenty of other potential causes for these kinds of accidents. On average, slip and fall accidents send 8.9 million people to the hospital every year. These injuries can occur as workplace injuries, injuries at a store, or injuries in soemone else’s home. If you were injured in one of these accidents, it is vital to get your case filed on time to get compensation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Slip and Fall Claim?
Anytime you are injured in an accident, whether it be a slip and fall, car accident, or another accident, you only have a certain amount of time to bring your case to court. The “statute of limitations” is the legal rule that limits how long you have to take your case to court. In Texas, the statute of limitations for slip and fall cases is 2 years.
Under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.003(a), an injured person has 2 years from the date of injury to get their claim filed. While this may seem like a long time, many cases are rejected or closed because they were filed too late. It is important to give yourself time to recover from your injuries, but you may need to act quickly. Especially if you suffered severe injuries like traumatic brain injury or serious spinal cord injuries, it is vital that you get your case filed on time to avoid having it rejected.
The statute of limitations only controls when your case needs to be filed. As long as you get your case to court and filed correctly, you can take time beyond that 2-year period to continue your case. Even though your case can continue after the 2-year limitations period, you won’t be able to bring any additional claims or include any other at-fault parties in the lawsuit after the 2 years are up. This may stop you from bringing other parties into the case, like a landlord or management company that could have been responsible for the property’s upkeep.
Even though you may have 2 years, it is always better to file early. Hiring an attorney as early as you can gives them more time to help build your case, research other at-fault parties, and sharpen your claims.
What Happens if I File a Slip and Fall Case Too Late?
Filing your case after the statute of limitations can mean losing your opportunity to sue. If a case is filed after the 2-year statute of limitations runs, the defendant can use the statute of limitations’ rules to ask the judge to dismiss the case. Alternatively, a court may raise the issue on its own and dismiss a late case to save the court’s time and resources.
There are a few exceptions that allow you an extension on your case. If you were under 18 years-old when the injury occurred or you were “of unsound mind,” you might be entitled to an extension. These “legal disabilities” effectively pause the statute of limitations. If you are under 18, you have 2 years to file after you turn 18. Similarly, if you suffer from a mental disorder that makes it impossible to appreciate the accident and your right to sue, you have 2 years after your disorder goes away to get your case filed.
Other factors may entitle you to an extension as well, so it is important to talk to a lawyer even if you think your case might be too late.
How to Prove the Store is Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall cases have a strong legal history with well-established rules. Proving your case, in its simplest terms, requires showing that the property owner left a dangerous condition that they should have repaired or cleaned up. In legal terms laid out in a Texas Supreme Court case called Wal-Mart Stores v. Reece, the court gave the following 4 factors you must show to prove your slip and fall case:
- A condition on the premises posed an unreasonable risk of harm;
- The premises owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the danger;
- The premises owner did not exercise reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk; and
- The premises owner's failure to use such care proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries.
Sometimes, this can be a difficult burden. However, working with an experienced attorney who understands the rules and requirements for your case can help.
Premises Liability Attorneys Handling Injury Claims in Houston, Fort Worth, and Arlington
When you or a family member has recently suffered a serious injury, all you want to do is rest and recover – not deal with complicated legal statutes and insurance paperwork. We understand completely, which is why our attorneys will be there to handle the legal work on your family’s behalf. Let us investigate the causes of your accident while you get the rest you need to heal. Equipped with more than 20 years of experience, our Dallas personal injury lawyers are committed to helping injured Texans recover the compensation they deserve for negligently inflicted injuries. For a free consultation on your case, call us as soon as you can at (817) 476-1797. We can answer your questions and help you understand your rights as an accident victim.