You buy a new Missouri house and love it like your first born. Two years later you see a small crack in the foundation, but pay it no mind. Two years after that, the small crack has grown and will now take thousands of dollars to fix. You find out that the surgery you had four years ago was botched, and now you will have more to correct the mistake. You finally get around to suing the driver of the fender bender from three years ago. What all these situations have in common is the statute of limitations.
The Statute of Limitations is a rule used by the court system that limits the amount of time one has to bring a civil lawsuit for a past action. The reasoning for this is twofold.
First placing a time limit on filing is a practical matter that works to maintain fairness. Secondly, the filing time limit prevents a person from having a legal matter indefinitely hanging over their head. The specific amount of time to bring a case varies state to state and by the type of case or injury.
In Massachusetts, most civil actions have a three year statute of limitations attached to them. The three year limitation applies to many cases, including those involving personal injury, slander, fraud, and injury to personal property. While the statute of limitations does not prevent a plaintiff from initiating a civil lawsuit, it does provide the defendant with a defense to the lawsuit.
For people with a potential lawsuit, the law can be confusing. Consulting an attorney can help with the navigation process.