As mentioned in last week's post, the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings denied a complaint in New York because it was not filed within the allotted time frame. This brings to light a very important issue-time limits for filing lawsuits. The law that governs this is known as the Statute of Limitations-these laws set time limits on how long a claimant has to file a lawsuit, whether civil or criminal. It differs from not only from the legal claim and whether the matter is civil or criminal, but also from state to state.
In New York, the statute of limitations for bringing a case relating to contracts ranges from one to six years. As per Article 2 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the New York Code, the time limit for a contract, whether written or oral, is six years. The time starts running from the time an incident took place (such as a breach of the contract) or the date of the discovery of the wrong.
If a lawsuit is not filed within the allotted time, it is possible that the opposing party can use the defense of the statute of limitation, resulting in a dismissal of the case. Once dismissed, it is possible the breach of contract claim may be lost forever.
This is why it is essential to remain abreast of the law surrounding contracts-not just regarding the formation and termination, but also when and how to bring a lawsuit if it is breached. Since it is not possible for New York residents to keep up with changing complicated laws, they should consider consulting a lawyer who can not only explain the intricacies of contract law but also ensure their valid claim is not lost due to a technicality.
Source: New York Courts, "Statute of Limitations," Accessed on March 29, 2016