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Statute of Limitations


Law that states how long a damaged party has to initiate a lawsuit against the party that inflicted the damage.


A statute of limitations refers to the legal period of time in which a violated party may bring forth a lawsuit. Upon the expiration of a statute of limitations, the violated party may no longer claim legal judgments or damages. Any claim filed after the claim period is not valid, and will not be rewarded in court.

The amount of time a party has to initiate a lawsuit differs based on the type of violation:

Property Damage: within three years of the date the damage occurred

Personal Injury Claims: within two years of the date of the injury

Written Contract: four years from the date the contract was violated

Government Claims: within 6 months of a violation

Tenants: 90 days

Oral Contract Claims: within two years

Real Estate Licensee Fraud: within three years

Real Property: within five years

Mortgages: four years

Statute of Limitations and Judgment Liens

Judgment liens can be terminated for the following reasons:

Statute of limitations is reached

The borrower pays off the debt

The borrower declares bankruptcy

The borrower and lender reach a settlement

Legal action must be brought within a reasonable time period. There are different maximum recovery periods for different scenarios.

Statutory Recovery Period

To recover title, claimant must file lawsuit within five years.

A lawsuit regarding a written agreement (contract, letter, and agreement) must be initiated within four years.

Fraud cases must be initiated within three years.

Cases regarding oral agreements or verbal agreement must be pursued within a two-year period.

Judgment must be pursued within 10 years of the defendant’s violation.

Actions that must be initiated within 90 days

Civil suits for lost or stolen personal items at a property must be initiated within 90 days. This includes items such as clothing, jewelry, baggage, and others.

Within six months

Action to recover wages, merchandise, goods, and other property seized by an officer or government official must be initiated within six months.

Within One Year

Actions for libel, slander, injury, or death caused by an unlawful or negligent act must be brought within one year.

Within Two Years

A wrongful action on a contract, obligation, or agreement must be initiated within two years.

Statute of Limitations In Different States

As the statute of limitation can change with the crime or wrongdoing being charged, it can also change with the state that the crime was committed in. For example, in Wisconsin the statute of limitations for certain felonies can expire after a few years where in West Virginia there are no felonies that fall under the statute of limitations.

The statutes of limitations also need the criminal themselves to remain within the state that they committed the crime in. If the police or the authoritative department in charge of finding the criminal, fail to do so after a specific amount of time, they are then able to live their lives without the possibility of being indicted for their alleged crimes.