There are few things more worrisome then running out of time to sue. So, I’ve come up with a short form for determining if you still have time or if the clock has already run out on your rights. There are a few rules to think about when filing your claims before a Texas court.
Here’s the long and short of what you need to know:
V.T.C.A., Insurance Code § 541.162:
§ 541.162. Limitations Period
(a) A person must bring an action under this chapter before the second anniversary of the following:
(1) the date the unfair method of competition or unfair or deceptive act or practice occurred; or
(2) the date the person discovered or, by the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have discovered that the unfair method of competition or unfair or deceptive act or practice occurred.
(b) The limitations period provided by Subsection (a) may be extended for 180 days if the person bringing the action proves that the person's failure to bring the action within that period was caused by the defendant's engaging in conduct solely calculated to induce the person to refrain from or postpone bringing the action.
V.T.C.A., Business & Commerce Code § 17.565:
§ 17.565. Limitation
All actions brought under this subchapter must be commenced within two years after the date on which the false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice occurred or within two years after the consumer discovered or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered the occurrence of the false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice. The period of limitation provided in this section may be extended for a period of 180 days if the plaintiff proves that failure timely to commence the action was caused by the defendant's knowingly engaging in conduct solely calculated to induce the plaintiff to refrain from or postpone the commencement of the action.
The short of it is: many insurance policies include their own language providing a statute of limitations. It usually allows for suits to be brought no later than 2 years and one day after the date of loss.
Texas' two-year statute of limitations governing unfair insurance related practices, rather than the four-year statute of limitations for contract actions, is appropriate when dealing with insurance policy enforcement issues.
If you have questions about whether you still have time to file your suit, break out your calendar and say a prayer that you still have time to file. This information is imperative for policyholders and their representatives. Missing the suit limitations period is costly. In fact, a lawsuit filed after the lapse of the applicable statute of limitations period is an affirmative defense to an otherwise valid claim and may bar legitimate coverage.