A Statute of Limitations is a law which sets forth the maximum time period for which a person or business can wait before filing a lawsuit against the responsible party, depending on the type of case or claim. In other words, if you want to sue someone, you need to do it in a timely fashion. The time periods vary by state and by the type of claim. Federal statutes set the limitations for suits filed in federal courts. State laws set the time limitations for suits filed in state courts. If the lawsuit or claim is not filed before the statutory deadline, the right to sue or make a claim is forever dead (barred). This DOES NOT mean that a creditor cannot sue you, or, that the court automatically knows that the lawsuit is not timely. The Statute of Limitations is what is called an “affirmative defense”, meaning, you have to raise it in the proper pleading during the litigation.
Statute of Limitations Questions?
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In Pennsylvania, the most common Statutes of Limitation are the two year statute (for personal injury and property damage type claims) and the four year statute (for claims based upon any type of contract (this would include Credit Card collection cases)).
The big question is “When does the Statute of Limitations on my case expire?” On a credit card case, the general answer is Four Years and Thirty Days from the date of the last payment on the account. When you are late on a payment by 30 days, you are in default under most credit card contracts. The default is when the timing for the Statute of Limitations begins to run. For some credit card cases, the SOL is three (3) years.
A big concern that I see from my clients is that they think that the Statute of Limitations is their only defense…nothing could be further from the truth. In my experience, the SOL is used on less than 5 percent of the collection claims that we defend. There are a multitude of other defenses, many of which are introduced before the SOL is even discussed. If you are being pursued by a junk debt buyer, a collection agency or a credit card company, please contact my office at 412-348-8600 for a free, no obligation consult to discuss your issue.
Copies of the referenced Pennsylvania statutes are listed for your review.
§ 5524. Two year limitation.
The following actions and proceedings must be commenced within two year:
- An action for assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution or malicious
abuse of process.
- An action to recover damages for injuries to the person or for the death of an individual caused by the
wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another.
- An action for taking, detaining or injuring personal property, including actions for specific recovery
- An action for waste or trespass of real property.
- An action upon a statute for a civil penalty or forfeiture.
- An action against any officer of any government unit for the nonpayment of money or the nondelivery of property collected upon on execution or otherwise in his possession.
- Any other action or proceeding to recover damages for injury to person or property which is founded on negligent, intentional, or otherwise tortious conduct or any other action or proceeding sounding in trespass, including deceit or fraud, except an action or proceeding subject or another limitation, specified in this subchapter.
§ 5525. Four year limitation.
The following actions and proceedings must be commenced within four years:
- An action upon a contract, under seal or otherwise, for the sale, construction or furnishing of tangible
personal property or fixtures.
- Any action subject to 13 Pa. C.S. §2725 & (relating to statute of limitations in contracts for sale).
- An action upon an express contract not founded upon an instrument in writing.
- An action upon a contract implied in law, except an action subject to another limitation specified in this subchapter.
- An action upon a judgment or decree of any court of the United States or of any state.
- An action upon any official bond of a public official, officer or employee.
- An action upon a negotiable or nonnegotiable bond, note or other similar instrument in writing. Where such an instrument is payable upon demand, the time within which an action on it must be commenced shall be computed from the later of either demand or any payment of principal of or interest on the instrument.
- An action upon a contract, obligation or liability founded upon a writing not specified in paragraph (7), under seal or otherwise, except an action subject to another limitation specified in this subchapter.
The Statute of Limitations is the time that a creditor has to file a lawsuit against you on a collection case. In most cases, the time is 4 years but there are a few exceptions to the rule that allow for only 3 years. Please contact our office at 412-348-8600 for a free 15 minute consultation.