Time Limits for Filing Cases:

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statute of limitations – federal and state statutes prescribing the maximum period of time during which various types of civil actions and criminal prosecutions can be brought after the occurrence of the injury or the offense.

  • accrual rule – delays the general limitations period to when the plaintiff discovers the facts which form the bases for a cause of action; often referenced in fraud cases.
    • accrual of cause of action – a cause of action generally accrues at the time of the injury, not at the time the damage is discovered.
      • cause of action – a group of operative facts which give rise to one or more bases for suing.
  • discovery rule – delays the general limitations period for injuries that are difficult to detect (i.e. medical malpractice) to when the plaintiff discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) the injury.
  • occurrence rule – a limitations period that begins to run when the alleged wrongful act or omission occurs; applies in most breach-of-contract claims.

statute of limitations for conspiracy cases – usually 5+ years

  • conspiracy – two or more persons operating in tandem, directly or indirectly, to perform an criminal act using lawful means, or a lawful objective using criminal means.

toiling the statute – circumstances that suspend or interrupt the statute of limitations, usually due to absence of the defendant from the jurisdiction (i.e. the accused fled to avoid prosecution).

statute of repose – unlike a statute of limitations, establishes a maximum period of time in which an action can be brought, whether or not there has been an injury. — aka nonclaim statute.

nonclaim statute – a law that sets a time limit for creditors to bring claims against a decedent’s estate; usually not subject to toiling, and is not waivable. — often used synonymous with both statute of limitations and statute of repose.

laches – unreasonable delay in pursuing a right or claim, thereby causing a court to deny relief that would otherwise be granted. — aka sleeping on rights; doctrine of state demand.


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