A statute of repose establishes a date on which an injured person can no longer take action.
The cause of action for a lawsuit is eliminated when the duration under a statute of repose has expired. It is a stricter deadline than a statute of limitations because it may not be tolled by fraud or discovery of injury.
What does tolled mean? When it is said that a statute is ‘tolled’, it means that something has stopped the statute from running for a period of time. Typical reasons include:
- The victim was a minor at the time the injury occurred
- The victim of the injury was not mentally competent at the time
- The defendant’s bankruptcy tolls the statute of limitations until such time it is resolved or the stay is lifted
In New Jersey, according to N.J.S.A. 2A:14-1.1 (Damages for injury from unsafe condition of improvement to real property; statute of limitation; exceptions), for many years, architects, design professionals and contractors have enjoyed immunity from virtually all liability arising from their participation in improvements to real property ten years after the date of substantial completion.
Recently, the Supreme Court of New Jersey heard oral arguments on a case involving the Statute of Repose, which might signal a revision in the court’s interpretation of the statute – pushing the date outward to ‘certificate of occupancy’ rather than substantial completion.
A statute of repose is not an avoidance or defense to a cause of action. The cause of action ceases to exist once the period of duration is passed. A statute of repose bars an action after a specified period of time has run from the occurrence of some event other than the injury which gave rise to the claim.
If you have been the victim of an accident due to another person’s negligent actions and have questions or concerns regarding it, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at the law offices of Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi to determine your options and protect your legal rights.