The statute of limitations defines the period of time you may file a lawsuit. The time periods vary depending upon type of injury and from state to state.
Significance of Time Limits
The statute of limitations law has several advantages. The limits ensure the quality of evidence in a case, which can lose accuracy with the passage of time. The law also places a high value on speedy implementation and helps lessen the amount of legal actions bogging down the judicial system. Not being aware of the statute of limitations in your situation can stop you before you get started.
Criminal Case Time Limits
The statute of limitations in Arkansas criminal cases depends upon the crime. Some injuries have no limitations whatsoever.
- Murder and rape with DNA evidence have no statute of limitations, and lawsuit may be filed at any time.
- Class Y felonies like murder in the first degree; kidnapping; manufacture of methamphetamines; causing a catastrophe; aggravated robbery and Class A felonies like exposing another to HIV knowingly, incest with a child under 16 years of age, child pornography, making a terrorist threat and more have a six-year statute of limitations.
- Class B, C and D felonies like aggravated assault, elder abuse, arson, burglary, criminal mischief, domestic battery, engaging a child in sexual activity, certain drug possession and certain property theft have a three-year statute of limitations.
- Statute of limitations in fraud cases is one year.
It should be noted that misdemeanor crimes and violations have a one-year statute of limitations.
Civil Case Time Limits
Civil cases in Arkansas are also subject to statutes of limitations.
- Professional and medical malpractice have a two-year time limit in which to file.
- Personal injury, legal malpractice, product liability, fraud and libel have a three-year statute of limitations.
- Contract cases come with a five-year statute of limitations, and three years for oral contracts.
- Slander has a one-year statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for various injuries and complaints can be hard to define. When in doubt, consult an attorney for best representation.
Variation in Statute of Limitations
Tolling has an effect on the statute of limitations. In some cases, the time limit clock is paused resulting in the lengthening of the usual statue of limitations. Some eligible situations are:
- if the accused is out of state for a long period of time
- if the accused is already being prosecuted for that offense
- mental defect of the accused
Also to keep in mind:
- The statute of repose differs comes into play after the statute of limitations has run out. Regardless of injury and date of discovery, there is an ultimate time limit in some cases, where legal cases cannot be presented. This is common in cases like product liability.
- The Doctrine of Laches is meant to ensure timely legal action and fairness to the opposing party. This legal option comes into play if there is too long of a delay in filing suit that results in unfair prejudice to the opposing party.
These are several situations that can change or pause the statute of limitations in a potential lawsuit.
Violation of Statute of Limitations
Ignorance of the law is not a defense. If you do not act in accordance with the statute of limitations and try to file a case outside of the time limits, the court may deny your claim. You may lose fees paid, be denied contractual services and lose your opportunity for restitution. Alternatively, if you are being sued outside the statute of limitations, you can file a suit to drop the case.
Keep In Mind
Filing legal cases can be complicated and stressful. It is wise to protect your rights and understand filing time limits by seeking the help of an attorney.