A statute of limitation or statute of repose is a law limiting when a lawsuit can be brought. These statutes cover every single type of claim possible, including criminal. Counting from the date of the injury or from when the injury should have been known, these statutes mark out a period of time during which a lawsuit may be brought into court.
There are a couple reasons for this, including one of the key elements of equity. A plaintiff should not slumber on their rights but instead should pursue action with diligence. If a plaintiff does not care enough at the time to bring an action, then a court will take that lack of diligence as indicative of the lack of seriousness to the claim.
This does not mean harm was not caused or that liability would not attach. David did cause the accident at the beginning of this article and Peter was hurt. Instead, all the statute says is a court will not provide a remedy. This can change based on a couple of circumstances.
First, a statute of limitations can be tolled. Tolling means that the statute of limitations stops running for the duration a specific circumstance is in effect. One such circumstance is that the nation is in a state of war. Another is if the injured party is a minor, for example, if Peter was 16 at the time of the accident, Peter would have until he was 18 before the statute of limitations started to run. There are many other circumstances when tolling may occur, though they will depend on the facts of the case and the situation of the injured party.
Second, different types of liability can be revitalized by a party. For example, Brittany borrows money from Lisa and does not repay it within the agreed upon time. Lisa does not pursue recovery of the debt until after the statute of limitations. This means that Brittany is at fault, but no remedy is available to Lisa. Should Brittany then pay some of the debt to Lisa, Lisa can may pursue and receive a judicial remedy because Brittany’s payment changes the conditions which can revive liability.
Remember the statute of limitations does not mean wrong-doing does not occur. Instead, the statute limits the time in which a remedy can be provided.