Recently, our client was sued for breach of contract and the contract was over 10 years old. We filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against him, and argued to the judge that the matter was beyond the “statute of limitations,” or the mandated time period upon which a court case can be filed. The judge agreed. The lawsuit against our client was quickly dismissed, saving him significant expenses and headache.
This begs the question, how long can you wait to file a lawsuit?
The time limitation will depend on the type of case and the financial loss you have suffered. For example, any case for personal injury from an automobile accident must be brought within two years of the accident. However, the limit is five years for property damage caused by another person negligently operating a vehicle. Actions for a breach of a written contract must be brought within five years of when the contract was broken, and three years for an oral contract. A lawsuit for libel, slander, or defamation generally must be brought within one year from when the statements were made or published.
Criminal charges also have limitations. While there are a number of exceptions, misdemeanors must be prosecuted within one year from when the crime occurred. Virginia does not have a statute of limitations for felony cases. The statute of limitations can also come into play in family law cases. There is a five year limitation on filing for divorce on adultery based grounds (if the adultery happened more than five years ago, you cannot use it as a ground for divorce).
The main take away from all of this: don’t sleep on your rights. If you do, you may end up waiving them. If you think you have a legal claim for an injury or financial loss that you suffered, talk to an attorney right away. We would be happy to discuss your potential claim with you. Please call or e-mail the firm for more information.
This post is provided as an educational service and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers in need of assistance with a legal matter should retain the services of competent counsel.