Every type of lawsuit, including a lawsuit for serious injury or death, has a certain amount of time to file the case. This is called a “statute of limitations,” and serves a few important purposes. If you were injured in an accident at a construction site, it is important to understand how long you have to file your case, and what you need to do to make sure you file on time. After facing a construction injury, it is important to talk to a lawyer about your case. The Dallas construction injury lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm offer free consultations to help you understand how long you have to file your injury case in Dallas.
Time Limits for Filing Construction Accident Lawsuits in Dallas, TX
In Texas, you must file any personal injury cases within the time limit to have your case heard. The rules for most personal injury cases are found in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003. Any lawsuit dealing with the injury or death of a person, which includes construction accidents, must be filed within 2 years to comply with the statute of limitations.
This 2-year period starts to run on the date of “accrual.” A cause of action “accrues” when you realize you are injured and know that it is someone else’s fault. In a personal injury case caused by an accident, this means that the injury accrues on the date of the accident. If you are suing for the wrongful death of a loved one, the accrual date is the date of death, not the date of injury. This means that if your loved one lingered for a few days after the accident, you have 2 years from the date of death to sue for wrongful death.
To file your case on time, it must be filed with a court within that 2-year period. This deadline only applies to filing the case, meaning that you may have additional time to gather more information, exchange evidence with the other side, clarify your case, and actually try the case in court. It is not expected that you must finish all of these processes within 2 years. However, any additional claims brought after the deadline may be too late. For example, if you initially sue the construction firm, but later realize the problems were caused by an equipment malfunction, it may be too late to add the equipment manufacturer to the lawsuit for the dangerous product lawsuit.
This 2-year deadline to file applies regardless of who you are. That means that construction workers injured on the job, people living near a construction site injured during a collapse, or passers-by injured by falling debris all have the same 2-year deadline to file their injury claims.
What Happens if You File a Construction Injury Case Too Late in Texas?
Statutes of limitations serve multiple purposes and are treated as very strict rules. First, these rules prevent older, less reliable cases from coming to court. If you wait too long before filing your case, evidence may have been lost or destroyed as part of a reasonable record retention policy. As a case becomes older, witnesses may forget details or their memories of the incident may fade, weakening the evidence in your case. Second, if you wait too long to file a case, it seems as though you don’t need the compensation, and filing the case was an afterthought. Ensuring prompt filing helps show that the case truly is important and that you didn’t let it go. Lastly, these limitations also prevent old cases from coming out of the woodwork to haunt defendants years after they occurred. Instead, defendants only need to be on the lookout for a lawsuit for 2 years.
If your case is filed after the 2-year deadline, your case may be blocked and dropped by a judge. The defendant is able to raise the statute of limitations issue as a complete defense to the allegations against them by bringing it up in their initial response to your complaint. If they do this, and the court verifies that your case was filed too late, the judge will be forced to drop the case unless you are entitled to an extension. If the defendant does not bring the statute of limitations issue up at that point, they may not be able to raise it later, and your case can continue.
In rare circumstances, you may be entitled to a deadline extension. Some things “toll” the statute of limitations by effectively pausing the clock. One example of this is known as “fraudulent concealment,” which occurs when the defendant lies to hide their fault in the matter. However, this is quite rare in cases like this. Talk to an attorney about what extensions might be justified in your case.
Contact Our Dallas Construction Injury Lawyers Today to File Your Case on Time
If you file your construction injury case too late, you may be blocked from receiving compensation or getting your day in court. To ensure you have time to research and clarify your claims, contact a lawyer about filing your case today. The Dallas personal injury lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm offer free consultations. Call (817) 476-1797 today to schedule your consultation.