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Civil litigation

statutes of limitations

Statutes of limitations are deadlines for filing specific types of claims in court, in arbitration, or in other legal proceedings. Statutes of limitations generally require a person or entity to file a lawsuit or initiate an arbitration proceeding within a certain number of years from the date the cause of action accrues or arises—often the date of the injury, whether a physical injury or a breach of contract, for example.

The discovery rule is a judge-made exception to statutes of limitations that stops or “tolls” the limitations period from beginning to run until the person with the right to assert the claim (the plaintiff) has sufficient knowledge to discover the facts regarding the injury or breach.

Similarly, a statute of limitations may be suspended or “tolled”—extending the time period in which the plaintiff may file a lawsuit or make a claim—if the plaintiff lacks the legal capacity to file a lawsuit or make a claim when the cause of action accrues (the person is under a legal disability). For example, if a person’s cause of action accrues when the person is a minor child, the statute of limitations will often by tolled until the child reaches the age of majority (often 18).

In Texas, statutes of limitations set deadlines for filing various types of legal claims. The time limits vary depending on the nature of the claim. For example, personal injury claims generally have a two-year statute of limitations, while breach of contract claims have a four-year limit. The discovery rule in Texas can toll the statute of limitations until the injured party becomes aware or should have become aware of the injury. This means that the clock for the statute of limitations may not start until the plaintiff discovers the injury or breach. Additionally, Texas law provides for the tolling of statutes of limitations for individuals who are under a legal disability at the time the cause of action accrues. For instance, if the cause of action occurs when the person is a minor, the statute of limitations is typically tolled until the individual reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years old in Texas. It's important for anyone considering legal action to consult with an attorney to understand the specific time limits that may apply to their case.

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A Brief Guide to Statutes of Limitations
Statutes of limitations serve several key purposes within the legal system. They promote certainty and stability by encouraging the timely pursuit of legal rights.