UPDATED: Texas’ Tolling of Statute of Limitations Passes
UPDATE: This blog was originally published on June 22, 2020. Since then, subsequent executive orders have definitively extended the tolling of the statute of limitations for civil cases to September 15, 2020, and granted judges the discretion to extend the deadline for filing through April 1, 2021. As the people of Texas cope with the unusual nature of court cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Bettersworth Law Firm will help you determine whether a personal injury lawsuit is possible for injuries you have sustained either recently or in the past few years.
On March 13, 2020, on the heels of Gov. Abbott’s declaration of disaster for the state of Texas, the state Supreme Court authored an emergency order tolling (pausing) all “service and filing deadlines” in civil cases until June 1. This means that any deadline for filing a lawsuit or serving process on a party to a lawsuit is extended until June 1 - usually a good thing for those contemplating filing suit - but there has been some confusion about just how far the order extends. If you are in a position to file a civil lawsuit, you need to be aware of what your position will likely be now that the statute of limitations is no longer being paused.
Do Not Miss The Statutory Window
The Texas civil statute of limitations is a law governing the amount of time in which a person can file a lawsuit before it is barred. It is generally understood that there must be a time limit on lawsuits, because over time, evidence decays, and memories become faded - if too much time elapses between an event and filing suit over injuries sustained, there will eventually be no evidence to prove liability. However, the time limit itself depends on the offense in question - for example, most personal injury lawsuits have a limitation period of two years, while a lawsuit for defamation must be filed within one year.
Very often, an injured party will fail to file their lawsuit within the statutory period, for one reason or another (the most common is simply not realizing how short a time they have in which to file suit). If you fail to file in time, the lawsuit will be forever barred - that is, you can never file it again, as you will have missed the proverbial window. The statute begins to run when a cause of action accrues - in other words, when something happens that might be grounds for a lawsuit - but very often, the injured party will not be told about it.
Confusing Language in Orders
After Gov. Abbott’s disaster declaration, the Texas Supreme Court handed down its first ‘tolling’ order, stating that all courts “may extend the statute of limitations in any civil case” for a “stated period ending no later than 30 days” after the disaster declaration lapses. However, several bar associations objected to the vague wording of this order, arguing that it could lead to different standards in every county of Texas. This was eventually addressed in later orders - for example, the most recent order drops the vague language and instead is much clearer, using the language about the statute being tolled until June 1, 2020.
Because of this confusion, it is understandable that someone with a suit in progress may have no idea of its current status. It is a good idea to consult with your attorney as quickly as possible, but every case is different. If you have not yet filed suit, however, you can do so as of this writing with no change to the law. The tolling of the statute has currently lapsed, meaning that filing suit at this point would be done under normal circumstances.
Contact a New Braunfels Personal Injury Lawyer Today
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has been constantly in flux for months. However, you still have the right to seek compensation and justice if you believe you have been wronged. The skilled New Braunfels personal injury attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are ready to try and answer any questions you may have. Contact our offices today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.