Childs v. Haussecker

In Childs v. Haussecker, 974 S.W.2d 31, 37-8 (Tex. 1998) the Court held for the first time that the discovery rule applies to claims for latent occupational diseases. The Court held that accrual of the limitations period is deferred in such cases until "a plaintiff's symptoms manifest themselves to a degree or for a duration that would put a reasonable person on notice that he or she suffers from some injury and he or she knows, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known, that the injury is likely work-related." Id. at 33. In Childs, the Court balanced the principles underlying the statute of limitations, including the benefit of repose, judicial economy, and the injustice to plaintiffs caused by strictly applying the statute of limitations. Id. at 38. The Court recognized the important protective purposes the statute of limitations serves, and held that deferring accrual in latent disease cases until an innocent plaintiff discovers his or her injuries does not betray those purposes. Id. The Court expressly held open the question whether limitations should run for separate diseases from the same exposure that manifest at different times. Id. at 41.