Do you think you might need to sue someone? Have you been procrastinating? Please don’t sit on your potential claim(s) any longer and consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. If you wait too long, you could lose your right to sue under the applicable statute(s) of limitation.
What factors set the deadline?
A statute of limitation requires a plaintiff to file a lawsuit within a certain, limited period of time after the claim(s) arise—or, in some circumstances, after the claim is (or reasonably should have been) “discovered.” All states, including Ohio, have enacted a number of statutes of limitation specifying different time periods depending on the kind of claim.
For example, if your property has been damaged, you might want to file a lawsuit against the person who damaged it. In Ohio, the deadline by which a plaintiff must file such a claim varies depending on whether the plaintiff will seek to recover monetary damages, or the replacement/repair of the damaged property. The applicable limitations period can also be different depending on whether the claim is for damages to real property (i.e., land, or, for example, a house on that land) or personal property. Plaintiffs in Ohio must file suit to recover for loss or damages to personal property within two (2) years, while lawsuits to recover for damage to real property must be filed within four (4) years.[i]
Another different statutory limitation period applies to Ohio consumers seeking to press claims under Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, R.C. 1345.01, et seq. This statute requires claims to be filed within two (2) years from the date of the defendant’s alleged violation.[ii] Still other limitations periods apply to breach of contract claims.[iii]
What happens when you miss your filing deadline?
A claim asserted in a lawsuit that is filed after the lapsing of the limitation period applicable to that claim will almost certainly be met with a motion to dismiss. The judge will probably grant this request—unless an exception applies. In some circumstances, the running of a statutory limitation period can be “tolled” (i.e., temporarily stopped or paused, to be continued upon the occurrence of some future happening) if, for example, the defendant is incarcerated, or if the plaintiff was a minor or was otherwise of “unsound mind” at the time that the claim arose.[iv]
When does the clock start ticking?
Another timing issue to consider is when the applicable limitation period actually begins running. The answer to this question usually depends on what kind of claim is at issue. For example, the one (1) year limitations period applicable to defamation claims begins to run as soon as the defamatory statement is published.[v]
A number of factors can influence the urgency with which a plaintiff may need to file suit in order to avoid the running of a limitations period, including what specific statutory limitations period applies, when the time period begins to run, and whether the time period has been or will be tolled. Again, different circumstances can affect when the time periods begin to run, and exceptions may apply to toll an applicable statutory limitations period. A more detailed discussion of whether and when these rules and exceptions may apply is beyond the scope of this article.
If you have questions or concerns about whether your right to file a lawsuit has been extinguished as a result of the running of statutory limitations periods, then you should contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. The different facts and circumstances in your case may determine whether enough time remains for you to file your claim(s).
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is merely intended to provide a very general overview of a certain area of the law. Nothing in this article is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. You should not rely on anything in this article without first consulting with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. If you have specific questions about your matter, please contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
[i] See R.C. 2305.09; R.C. 2305.10.
[ii] See R.C. 1345.10(C).
[iii] See R.C. 2305.06 (providing eight (8) years for written contracts); R.C. 2305.07 (providing six (6) years for oral contracts).
[iv] R.C. 2305.15.
[v] See R.C. 2305.11; see also, e.g., Dehlendorf v. Gahanna, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 14AP-379, 2015-Ohio-3680, ¶ 37 (Sept. 10, 2015).