The Importance of Knowing the Statute of Limitations

People often hear the words, “Statute of Limitations” in regard to their case, but what does that really mean? A statute of limitations is the time within which you must file a lawsuit or forever be prevented from doing so. The applicable Statute of Limitations is calculated from when the “cause of action accrues.” When a cause of action accrues depends on the particular claim. For instance, a cause of action for personal injury accrues when the accident occurred. A cause of action for a breach of contract accrues when one of the parties fails to fulfill their obligations under the contract.

The amount of time someone has to commence a lawsuit after the “cause of action accrues” varies. A breach of contract action must be brought within 6 years, while an action for personal injury is 3 years (excluding medical malpractice which has a 2 1/2 statute of limitations). The statute of limitations for slander, libel, false imprisonment, assault or battery is 1 year. The Statute of Limitations for commencing an action for fraud is 6 years or 2 years from when the victim discovered or could have discovered the fraud.

Once the Statute of Limitations has expired, a person cannot successfully commence a lawsuit unless that person is an minor or is “insane”. These are considered disabilities that toll (suspend) the statute of limitation until the disability no longer exists. (i.e. the minor reaches the age of 18).

Anyone who has a potential claim against another party must be aware of the dates within which they MUST commence a lawsuit, or lose that right forever.

Posted by Michael Schulman, Attorney at Law


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