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What’s the Difference Between a Statute of Limitations & a Statute of Repose?

As legal terms, “personal injury,” “medical malpractice,” and “product liability” encompass a wide range of physical, psychological, and emotional injuries that are intentionally or inadvertently perpetrated by a negligent party. Before injured plaintiffs can file their claims, they must first reach out to an experienced attorney who can determine if their case is still valid per their state’s statutes of limitations and statutes of repose. While these state laws both function as countdowns to determine a plaintiff’s right to file a civil lawsuit, there are a few key differences that must be taken into account.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

Each state has their own law and regulations regarding the statute of limitations for injury-related cases. In Texas, plaintiffs generally have 2 years to file their personal injury, medical malpractice, and product liability claims. There are a few nuances and exceptions to this law, which is why it’s so important to discuss your case with a knowledgeable legal professional.

This clock starts ticking when a plaintiff suffers harm or when the plaintiff reasonable discovers the injury in question. If a plaintiff tries to file their personal injury claim after the deadline has passed, the court may refuse to hear their case. Likewise, the defendant may also have the grounds to request a case dismissal based on the statute of limitations.

What Is a Statute of Repose?

A statute of repose, or a “nonclaim statute,” is also a time limit that cuts off a plaintiff’s ability to recover damages. However, because this law provides an absolute defense to liability, it tends to favor defendants more than plaintiffs.

For example, in product liability cases, the statute of repose prevents lawsuits if a certain amount of time has passed since the product was initially sold by the manufacturer. Per section 16.012 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a plaintiff has 15 years to file a claim for a defective product. While this may seem like a long time, it’s actually a legal matter that can be quite tricky to deduce.

For example, consider the following scenario:

  • A manufacturer sells a defective product to a store in 2005
  • The store finally sells the product to a customer in 2010
  • Over the years, the customer rarely, if ever, uses the defective product
  • In 2021, the defective product is responsible for injuring the customer

In other circumstances, this scenario could lead to a product liability claim. However, since it’s been over 15 years since the manufacturer initially sold the product, the court may not be able to hear the case.

Likewise, due to Texas’ statute of repose laws, plaintiffs only have 10 years to file medical malpractice claims. Once the 10 years has passed, the negligent omission or act is barred.

The statute of repose for medical malpractice claims may prohibit the following statute of limitations exceptions:

  • The plaintiff discovers the injury after 2 years
  • The plaintiff is being treated over a period of time
  • The plaintiff tolls the statute of limitations by giving notice.

Ready to File a Claim? Schedule a Consultation Today

Filing an effective and accurate claim can be incredibly difficult without legal guidance. If you’re filing a personal injury or product liability claim, contact the Austin personal injury attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC. We can thoroughly investigate your case, determine if your claim will be impacted by the statute of limitations or statute of repose, and litigate in court on your behalf.

Pursue compensation today! Call The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 326-3200 to schedule a consultation.

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