For most lawsuits, the federal and state governments impose a statute of limitations. This means that you have a specific period to file a lawsuit for a crime or breach against you. If you wait until the statute of limitations has passed, you may not receive any monetary compensation for damages you suffered.
In a class-action lawsuit, statutes of limitation still come into play. However, the length of time for the statute depends on the lawsuit. For example, in the Antitrust class action case against Visa and MasterCard, a four-year statute of limitations applied.
Complications for statutes in class-action lawsuits
However, class action lawsuits present unique circumstances due to the large number of affected parties. In such cases, the court can approve a toll on the case. The damage extends the deadline so that additional class members (people affected by the lawsuit) can join the claim.
Before 2018, subsequent actions on a class-action lawsuit could also file during the extended toll period. Now, all following claims related to the same causes as the original class action claim must also file during the statute of limitations on the original case.
In the situation of the Visa and MasterCard class action, any small businesses filing for claims outside of the class action also had to abide by the original statute of limitations.
What are the statutes of limitations in Texas?
Outside of class action complexities, states can also set different statutes of limitation for lawsuits governed by that state’s courts. Texas enforces the following statutes of limitations:
- Breach of written contract: 4 years
- Breach of oral contract: 4 years
- Personal injury: 2 years
- Property damage: 2 years
Plaintiffs who do not file within these time periods cannot move their claim forward.
When does the statute of limitations begin?
Typically, the clock for the statute of limitations starts the date the plaintiff incurred harm. This is one of the most important reasons to file a claim as soon as you know your damages.