Statute of Limitations vs. Statute of Repose in Personal Injury Law

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The law provides those injured by another person’s negligence or actions the ability to secure compensation in order to cover the costs of medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. To be fair to the party who caused the injury though, the law also provides a period of time in which the injured party can file suit, incentivizing quick action on behalf of the plaintiff, and preventing the responsible party from being held liable for an indefinite period of time. This time period is known as the statute of limitations, and may vary depending on the nature of the injury.

In some cases though, an injured party may also be affected by another set of laws, known as statutes of repose, which can be equally as important, depending on the case. Understanding the difference between the two is imperative for anyone interested in filing a personal injury claim.

What is a Statute of Limitations

As mentioned previously, a statute of limitations is a law that provides a period of time in which an injured party may file a personal injury claim against whomever is liable. Once the time period within the statute of limitations runs its course, the injured party is then barred from attempting to secure payment. The time period given ultimately depends on the type of injury, as well as the jurisdiction. For example, in Texas, per the Texas Civil Practice & Remedy Code § 16, a person has two years to file a claim for personal injury (including medical malpractice or wrongful death), although up to four years for breach of contract. These numbers may differ in other states. In most cases, a statute of limitations begins to run on the date that the injury occurs; in others, such as in the case of medical malpractice, the statute may begin when the injured party discovers or should have discovered the injury.

What is a Statute of Repose?

Similar to a statute of limitations, a statute of repose also states a time period in which a plaintiff may file suit. Unlike the former though, a statute of repose protects a defendant from liability if an injury does not occur within a specific period of time. A statute of repose ultimately bars a plaintiff from filing suit against a defendant if the injuries were not sustained before the end of the time period.

To understand a statute of repose, the concept is applied to a products liability action. Most importantly, the statute of repose in Texas for products liability actions provides 15 years after the date of purchase. For example then, if an individual purchased a product, and was then injured by that product within a year, he or she would then have two years after the date of injury to file a claim, according to the statute of limitations. If the individual bought the product and did not sustain related injuries until 16 years after the initial purchase, he or she would be barred from recovering compensation, as the statute of repose would have expired.

An Attorney Can Help You Understand the Specifics

As demonstrated by  this post alone, the complexities of personal injury law are vast. If you have sustained injuries due someone else’s negligence or actions, it is in your best interests to contact Tate Law Offices, P.C., today by calling 888-769-1086 for a free case review.