Omar Ochoa Law Firm

Texas Statute of Limitations for Property Damage Claims


January 16, 2024


Omar Ochoa

January 16, 2024

April 16, 2024

Dealing with property damage can be a distressing experience, and understanding the legal time limits associated with filing a claim in Texas is critical. This post will walk you through the essential information regarding the statute of limitations for property damage cases in Texas.

Whether you're a homeowner, business owner, or tenant, it’s imperative that you have a good grasp of this legal timeline to protect your rights and ensure that you receive fair compensation. Here’s what you need to know about making property damage claims in the Lone Star State.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is like a clock ticking in the background of many legal matters, including property damage claims. It’s an official time limit that dictates how long you have to take legal action after an incident. In other words, it's the "use it or lose it" deadline for exercising your legal rights.

In Texas, the relevant laws regarding property damage claims and their associated statute of limitations are outlined in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Title 2, Chapter 16. Specifically, you'll find the pertinent information in § 16.003 of this code.

This statute sets the general time limit for personal injury and property damage claims, which includes property damage cases.

What Is the Filing Deadline for Property Damage Lawsuits in Texas?

Texas Statute of Limitations for Property Damage Claims

Under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 16.003, the state typically imposes a two-year deadline from the date of the initial incident that caused the damage. That means you have two years to initiate legal action to seek compensation.

Keep in mind, however, that the statute of limitations can be affected by specific circumstances and exceptions. To make sure you have time on your side, consult a knowledgeable Texas property damage attorney, who can advise you on the particulars of your case.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Property Damage Claims in Texas?

Yes. Certain exceptions and special circumstances may affect the standard statute of limitations for property damage claims in Texas. The following are some common examples.

Involvement of Minors

If a minor (someone under 18 years of age) is the victim of property damage, the statute of limitations may be extended. The clock typically starts running when they reach the age of majority, which is 18 in Texas.

Individuals with Disabilities

If someone has a disability or mental incapacity that prevents them from pursuing legal action, the statute of limitations may be "tolled," or paused until they regain competence or otherwise have the means to file a claim.

Delayed Discovery

Delayed Discovery

In some cases, the statute of limitations may start from the date of the discovery of the damage rather than the date on which it occurred. This usually applies when the damage isn’t immediately apparent.

Fraud or Misrepresentation

If the responsible party engages in fraudulent conduct or conceals information related to the property damage, their actions may extend the statute of limitations. In such an instance, the clock will start running when the fraud or misconduct is discovered.

Governmental Immunity

Special rules and timeframes may apply in cases involving property damage claims against government entities. It's therefore wise to be aware of the specific statutes and requirements for suing government agencies.

It's highly recommended that you consult an experienced property damage claim attorney to understand how these exceptions may apply to your situation.

What If I Missed the Deadline?

Missing the deadline for filing a property damage claim in Texas can have significant consequences for your case, and your options for legal recourse may be limited.

Generally, exceeding the statute of limitations means forfeiting your legal right to pursue litigation for property damage. The court will likely dismiss your case if it's filed after the deadline.

Even if your property damage claim is entirely valid and you have strong evidence, waiting too long to take action can make it impossible to recover compensation for your losses.

That being said, it’s still wise to meet with an experienced property damage attorney. In rare cases, there may be grounds for arguing that the statute of limitations should be extended due to atypical circumstances. An attorney can assess your situation and determine whether any legal remedies are available.

If a property damage claim is no longer an option, you might explore alternative solutions, such as pursuing a claim through your insurance company, if applicable.

In any case, it's important to act promptly and work with a legal professional who can provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.

Are There Any Other Limits for Property Damage Claims in Texas?

Navigating property damage claims in Texas involves more than just understanding the statute of limitations. Various other factors and legal principles can impact your ability to seek compensation for property damage.

Texas Tort Claims Act

If your claim involves a government entity, the Texas Tort Claims Act imposes limitations and notice requirements that can affect your case. It's vital to understand the special rules and exceptions that apply when suing the government.

Additional Insurance Policies

Your insurance policies' specific terms and limitations can affect your property damage claim. For example, a given policy's coverage limits, deductibles, and exclusions can all influence the amount of compensation you can recover.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory Negligence

Texas follows a modified comparative negligence system. If you’re found to be more than 50% responsible for the property damage, you may be barred from recovering any compensation. As such, it’s important to consider whether and how this principle applies to your case.

Statute of Repose

In some cases, a statute of repose may apply. A statute of repose establishes an absolute time limit for bringing claims for certain types of property damage. This time limit may be unrelated to when the damage was discovered.

Notice Requirements

Depending on the exact circumstances and parties involved, you may be expected to meet specific notice requirements within a certain timeframe to preserve your right to bring a property damage claim.

Steps You Should Take After Discovering Property Damage to Avoid Missing the Deadline

You’ve got enough on your mind if you recently discovered damage to your property. Even so, it’s crucial to take the right steps to protect your rights and ensure that you don't miss any legal deadlines.

1. Document the Damage

Take clear, revealing photos and videos of the damage from multiple angles. Visual evidence will play a central role in supporting your claim.

2. Note the Date and Time

Record the date and time you first discovered the damage. This information will be useful for establishing when the damage-causing incident occurred.

3. Contact Your Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company about the property damage as soon as possible. Be prepared to provide more information about the incident and follow the steps required for the company’s claims process.

4. Preserve the Available Evidence

Avoid making significant repairs or alterations to the damaged property until you've talked to your insurance company and legal counsel. Otherwise, you risk losing essential evidence.

5. Gather Relevant Documents

Gather Relevant Documents

Collect any documents related to the property damage, such as repair estimates, invoices, and communication with your insurance company.

6. Seek Legal Counsel

Meet with an experienced property damage attorney at your earliest convenience. They’ll provide reliable guidance, ensure that you meet all deadlines, and advocate for your rights.

7. Review Your Insurance Policy

Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy's terms, coverage limits, and exclusions. You’ll need to know your policy inside and out when pursuing a property damage claim.

8. Be Cautious with Any Statements You Make

Watch what you say when discussing the incident with insurance adjusters or others. Avoid admitting fault or making statements that could be used against you to deny your claim.

9. Keep a Record

Maintain a comprehensive log of all communications related to the property damage claim, including emails, phone calls, and letters. You never know when the details of a given conversation will come in handy.

10. Adhere to the Relevant Legal Deadlines

Adhere to the Relevant Legal Deadlines

Work closely with your attorney to make sure you meet all legal deadlines for filing your property damage claim. Missing these deadlines can jeopardize your ability to seek compensation.

Performing these steps promptly will give you the best chance of protecting your rights, gathering the supporting evidence you need, and guaranteeing that you don't miss that all-important deadline for filing a property damage claim in Texas.

Trust Omar Ochoa Law Firm to Assist You with Your Property Damage Claim

Understanding Texas’s statute of limitations for property damage claims is just the beginning. With so many complicated legal nuances and potential pitfalls, consulting a property damage attorney is a necessity.

The seasoned legal professionals at Omar Ochoa Law Firm will prioritize your rights and interests in property damage claims in Houston, San Antonio, McAllen, and elsewhere across the great state of Texas. Contact us today to get the help you need and improve your chances of securing fair and adequate compensation for your property damage.

Omar Ochoa

Omar Ochoa has been nationally recognized as one of the best young trial lawyers in the country. He's represented clients in federal and state courts and arbitrations throughout the United States and internationally. He is highly experienced in a wide range of complex litigation and has handled a variety of cases. He has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for clients of all types — from individuals to mid-sized business owners to multi-national companies.

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    How can I calculate the specific deadline for my property damage claim?

    To determine the deadline for your property damage claim in Texas, start with the date the incident occurred. The statute of limitations for property damage claims in Texas is typically two years from this date. However, exceptions and other special circumstances may apply, so it's best to consult with an attorney who can provide precise guidance based on your situation.

    Can I file a property damage claim if I only recently discovered damage that occurred several years ago?

    In some cases, it may be possible to pursue a property damage claim even if you only recently discovered old damage. When this happens, the statute of limitations will begin on the date you discovered or reasonably should have discovered the damage. This is known as the "discovery rule."

    The application of the discovery rule can be complex, and it's subject to different conditions and legal interpretations. Speak with a property damage lawyer to determine whether you have a viable claim based on the discovery of the damage.

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