1. What is the Time Frame?
2. Applicable Time Limits

A breach of contract time limit for claim is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit against another party. To claim breach of contract, you will often find that there is a time limit applied to how long you have to do so; this is often referred to as the statute of limitations. While the length of time you have to file a claim may vary from state to state, the length of time also varies depending upon the type of action you wish to seek.

Prior to filing a claim against another party for breach of contract, you will want to ensure that the statute of limitations has not yet expired. If it has, the defendant may use that (also called defense of limitations), and you will be forced into the position of having to prove that your cause of action fell within the proper time period. If unable to do so, not only will you not be able to take action against the other party at that time, you may lose the ability to file a claim or seek damages altogether. When the statute of limitations has expired, this is also known as statute-barred.

What is the Time Frame?

A common question is: how long is the statue of limitations and when does the clock start? Ultimately, it depends upon the cause of action to be taken. For example:

  • In a negligence claim, the statute of limitations is typically six years from the time that the negligence occurred. However, it is still possible to file a claim beyond that period if the negligence was not discovered until later. For example, if you have a new hot water tank installed and the contractor did a poor job, you may still not discover that until some time later. As such, you can potentially file the claim upon the discovery, even if the negligence occurred much earlier. This is commonly known as latent damages.
  • In a contract claim, the statute of limitations begins whenever the breach of contract occurred. For example, if you hire a house painter to paint your living room and they never show up to complete the job, they have committed a breach of contract, and the statute of limitations begins from the date upon which they failed to show up.

In the case of latent damages, the plaintiff (or, claimant) generally has up to three years from the time of the discovery of the negligence, or the time from which it should have reasonably been found. Obviously, the idea of, “reasonably known” is quite subjective, and can vary greatly from case to case. As such, it is always a good idea to seek professional counsel in these situations.

As soon as the courts receive the claim form, it is understood that proceedings have begun. From this point, the clock has stopped running on the statute of limitations.

Applicable Time Limits

As discussed, there are various time limits for different acts. Some of these circumstances and time limits include:

  • Personal injury or death: one has up to three years from the time of the act of negligence that caused the death or injury. This is most commonly seen in acts of medical malpractice.
  • Tort: usually this includes trespass and conversion, a person has up to six years to file a claim.
  • Product liability claims: within 10 years of the time frame as defined by the Consumer Protection Act.
  • Fraud: one would have up to six years to file a claim.
  • Libel or slander: up to one year. It is worth noting that if the claimant is being continually maligned, then a new one-year statute of limitations begins from the occurrence of each new act of libel.
  • Lack of payment for rent: a claimant has up to six years from the time the rent was due to file a claim.
  • The enforcement of a judgment: the claimant has up to six years to file a claim, from the time the judgment became enforceable.

Given the various statues of limitations that exist for different cases, combined with the fact that these statutes vary from state to state, if you believe you are in a position to file a claim against another party for breach of contract, it is always a good idea to get the ball rolling as soon as you become aware of the breach. In contacting an attorney as soon as possible and having them review the applicable contract, it will help you determine if there were any special clauses or provisions in the contract; additionally, the attorney can best advise you as to the best course of action.

If you need help with breach of contract claims, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.