The statute of limitations is a law that requires a civil or criminal action to be brought within a certain period of time.
If you are involved in a car accident, you will file a tort claim if you take your case to court. This means that you will file a civil lawsuit to obtain compensation for your losses caused by the defendant. You must file your case within the limitation period that applies to these types of cases. If you don’t, your claim will be “barred.” This means that the court will not allow your case to move forward.
As a general rule, the countdown begins on the day a crime or misdemeanor (a civil fault) has been committed. In some cases, the time begins to run once the wrongdoing is discovered or should have been discovered.
Why is there a limitation period?
The statute of limitations exists so that claims can be resolved in a timely manner.
In many situations, it would not be fair or appropriate for someone to constantly live with the threat of legal action hanging over their head from incidents that occurred decades ago. There are exceptions, though for certain types of criminal cases such as murder, but these exceptions do not apply to tort actions.
A statute of limitations also exists to help ensure that claims can be fairly decided. The more time passes, the more evidence is lost. Witnesses tend to forget what happened and physical evidence can be misplaced or damaged. This could prevent a plaintiff from proving their claim or a defendant from properly defending themselves.