The Statute of Limitations is that part of the United States Code and the laws adopted by each state that deals with the limitation clauses on various laws. It is a law that directs the minimum and maximum time period wherein a lawsuit can be filed. These statutes are very important as they decide whether or not a lawsuit can be filed. In situations where lawsuits are not filed within the stipulated time, an individual may altogether lose their right to pursue the lawsuit. The time deadlines established by the Statute of Limitations varies from State to State.
The purpose of the Statute of Limitation is to strike a balance between the rights of the claimants versus that of the defendant. If too long a period is permitted, evidence such as memory recollection weekends and documentation that is relevant to the defense of the case gets discarded. On the other hand, if the time period is too short, a claimant does not have the opportunity to retain an attorney or otherwise, seek the advice of a lawyer. Most laws have Statute of limitations ranging from 2 years to 5 years.
The Statute of limitations is very strict (with limited exceptions as more fully explained below)
If there has been a case of negligent conduct resulting in injury, and the Statute of Limitations provides for 2 years to file the case, and if it brought to court even 1 day later than 2 years, the aggrieved party will have lost any chances of recovering damages.
Statute of Limitations for Contracts
Depending upon which state’s jurisdiction covers the lawsuit, there is a wide difference between the terms of the statues. The time period can range anything between 3-15 years. This law in most states provides a longer time period for contracts that are in written form and shorter periods for oral contracts.
The Statute of Limitations comes into play when there is a breach of contract. This law comes into play after the facts or the cause of action resulting in the breach comes into existence. The time of discovery of this fact or action does not hold relevance, only the time of actual action is relevant.
- In a case involving breach of written contract, the Florida Law provides for up to 5 years to file the claim or lawsuit
- In a case involving breach of oral contract (subject to the Statute of Frauds), the Florida Law provides for up to 4 years to file the claim or lawsuit
The purpose of the statute is set a deadline for the aggrieved party to file a legal claim or lawsuit.
The following variables determine the time period:
- Type of case
- Circumstance of case
- Type of claim involved
- State jurisdiction
- The court where it is filed – State or Federal
Not only breach of contracts, the Statute is also applicable for a host of other situations, including medical malpractice and personal injury. It also provides for special laws wherein minors are involved. The Statute varies for different causes of action across the different states. Statute of Limitations applies to both criminal and civil cases.
Certain situations may result in an extension or tolling of the Statue. Tolling is a device that stops the time from running during the time the condition exists. Tolling or extension may be granted in the following cases:
- When the age of the injured party is below 18 years
- Bankruptcy has been filed by the defendant
- Any of the parties is suffering from a condition such as mental illness
- There has been an unconditional confirmation for the existence of a debt or unconditional agreement for debt repayment
- When the discovery of the cause of action occurs after the statute of limitations period.