You have recently come across an issue and realized that there has been a breach of contract, either from negligence or faulty work. You want to seek compensation through the courts, however the contract was completed a number of years ago. Can you still sue?
The Statute of Limitations
When determining if you are able to pursue action through the courts, your lawyer will turn to the Statute of Limitations to see if you are within the filing deadline. The Statute of Limitations sets out the time frame a plaintiff has to take legal action. If a plaintiff misses the deadline, the defendant can alert the court to the Statute of Limitations (if it applies) and likely have the case dismissed.
This obviously has serious consequences on the plaintiff and leaves them unable to seek redress for any damages, therefore it is crucial that all parties understand the legal time frames when faced with a breach of contract.
Civil Time Limits on Claims
For civil cases, the clock normally starts to tick under the Statute of Limitations when the claim arises. Sometimes this starting point is called the “accrual” of the “cause of action” which basically means it’s the moment at which point the plaintiff has a basis to sue. For example, in an assault and battery case the plaintiff has two years from the date of being hit by the defendant to file a suit. Once the two years has passed, the plaintiff is unable to sue the defendant for any damages related to the offense.
The “Discovery” Rule
Although the Statute of Limitations sets out specific time frames, the “discovery” rule also comes into play when determining the filing deadline. This rule stipulates that the filing time period does not start until the moment when the plaintiff realizes (or should reasonably have known) that they have suffered harm. It is important to note that the delay in discovery must be reasonable under the circumstances, otherwise the rule will not be applied.
In some situations, the discovery rule will not apply, and sometimes the period of time for bringing a claim post-discovery can be short, so it is vital that you seek legal assistance quickly to prevent a filing delay.
Statutes of Limitations in Oklahoma
Statutes of limitations can vary from state to state, and from state court to federal court. It will also differ depending on the type of action involved. For the purposes of this article, we are specifically highlighting the limitations on a breach of contract.
Contract (in writing): Five years
- Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 95(A)(1) (2017)
- Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12a, § 2-725(1) (2017)
Contract (not in writing): Three years or five years
- Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 95(A)(2) (2017)
- Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12a, § 2-275(1) (2017)
It is important to remember that it may be possible to bring multiple causes of action from a single incident of wrongful conduct, therefore even if it appears that the statute of limitations has run out, it may still be possible to bring a different claim.
It is always advisable to consult a lawyer for a better understanding of all time limits that apply to your situation and any exceptions for overcoming them. The law in this area is complicated and we here at Rick Dane Moore & Associates Law Firm, P.L.L.C. want to help you seek legal reparation before the filing deadline passes.
Based in Norman, our law firm serves all of Oklahoma and we invite you to call us today at (405) 366-0373 to arrange for an initial consultation to discuss your case.