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Statutes of Limitations in Premises Liability Actions

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A statute of limitations is a law which limits the time an injured plaintiff has to make a claim. As the name suggests, these laws are codified in statutes, which is another word for laws enacted by a legislative (or sometimes regulatory) agency.

Like most criminal acts, civil wrongs (sometimes called torts) and negligence actions also have limitations periods. Plaintiffs who fail to bring a claim within the time described in the statute are usually barred from bringing the claim. In other words, if a plaintiff doesn’t bring a claim within the proper limitations period, the plaintiff may (and often does) lose the right to recover for the wrong or injury done to him or her.

This is why it’s so important to speak with a lawyer about your actual or potential claims as soon as you become aware that you have them.


The “statute of limitations” actually refers to a group of statutes, which vary in the length of time they give a damaged or injured plaintiff to make a claim.

For example, the standard statute of limitations for premises liability claims resulting in personal injuries is two years. This means that a plaintiff has two years from the date of the injury (unless an exception applies, which is rare) to bring a claim (meaning file a lawsuit) against the defendant. This two-year limitations period went into effect in January, 2003 – before that date, the statute of limitations on this kind of lawsuit was only one year.

By comparison, the statutes of limitations which govern lawsuits for defects in property permit a plaintiff four years to bring a claim for patent defects, and up to ten years for latent defects in construction.

Plaintiffs must be very careful not to confuse or mistake the amount of time they have to bring a claim. Never rely on a friend, a business partner, or anyone other than a licensed attorney to evaluate your legal rights and the applicable statute of limitations.

Limitations periods (the time a plaintiff has to bring a lawsuit against the defendant) vary widely, so do not delay in seeking legal counsel if you think you have a claim for injury, property damage, or any other reason or cause. Delay could damage your claims and cost you important legal rights.


DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice to any person or entity, and does not create an attorney-client relationship with any person or entity. Premises liability is a complex legal topic, and no single article can provide complete or comprehensive coverage or information about this or any other legal topic or issue. Your personal liability may differ, based on your individual facts and circumstances. If you believe you have a legal claim or issue, or wish to know more about your individual rights, consult an experienced attorney without delay.

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