Regarding statutes of limitations, there is no “one size fits all” answer that fits all cases. “Statute of limitations” are laws that set time limits on how long you have to file a civil lawsuit.
Each state has it’s own limits, and within that state the statutes of limitations depends on the type of claim. Generally, you have at least one year, though again it varies. However if you are suing a government agency, you almost always have one year to file a lawsuit no matter the claim or what state you live in. Once the statute of limitations expires, you can no longer file a lawsuit.
The clock starts ticking on the date when the claim arises, or the “date of harm.” This is the date when your property was harmed, you were injured, or a contract was violated. Sometimes, this date is unclear because the plaintiff did not become aware of the harm months or even years after it occurred. If this is the case, the statute of limitations begins either on the “date of discovery” of the harm, or on the date the harm “should have been discovered.” The date it “should have been discovered” is determined by a judge who decides a time when the plaintiff reasonably should have become aware of the harm. So, the day the clock starts ticking could really be three different times: the date of harm, the date the plaintiff could reasonably have discovered the harm, or the date which the plaintiff actually discovered the harm. The official time chosen varies on a case-by-case basis.
The running time of the statute of limitations then depends on the type of claim. The running time for civil suits can be anywhere from 1 year to even 20 years. Keep in mind that laws can change any time, and you should always check current laws and consult with an attorney.
New Jersey statute of limitations by type of civil claim, as of 2014.
- 1 year: Libel and Slander.
- 2 years: Assault and Battery, False Imprisonment, Legal Malpractice, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Product Liability, and Wrongful Death.
- 6 years: Contract (in writing), Contract (oral), Fraud, Property Damage, and Trespassing.
- 20 years: Enforcing Court Judgement
For criminal law, the statute of limitations vary from 1 year to indefinite, depending on the facts of the case.
Statute of limitations for criminal claims in New Jersey, as of 2014.
- 1 year: Disorderly Conduct
- 1 or 5 years, depending on the specifics of the case: Assault, Receiving Stolen Property, and Theft
- 5 years: Arson, Burglary, Kidnapping, and Robbery
No Time Limit: Manslaughter, Murder, and Rape/Sexual Assault
If you have questions, or not sure if you have a case, speak to an experienced, knowledgeable attorney to help you determine if you have a case. Don’t wait remember the statute of limitation.