Civil Litigation Defense
Friday, January 19, 2018
If the claim against you seems old, you will want to consider the New Jersey defense of the statute of limitations. Under New Jersey law, a plaintiff must file its lawsuit within a certain period of time.
The plaintiff must file the complaint timely in order to ward off a defendant escaping liability based on the technicality of the bar provided by the applicable statute of limitations. The plaintiff can file a suit against you that is past the statute of limitations, but upon proper motion, the court will dismiss it.
In order to benefit from a statute of limitations to get a case against you dismissed by the court, you may need to ensure it is an affirmatively pled defense in your Answer to the plaintiff’s complaint. You can then potentially use it later to get the complaint dismissed.
Time limit depends on type of legal action
New Jersey’s Revised Statutes lay out all of the differing limitations periods that apply to various types of claims. With some exceptions, the limitations period provided by New Jersey statutes include the following:
- Two years: personal injury to an adult plaintiff, wrongful death and product liability
- Six years: breach of contract
- One year: libel or slander
Medical malpractice limitations period more complicated
Medical malpractice implicates some more complicated rules. An adult must file a claim within two years of when he or she should have learned that there was a committed malpractice. However, if the plaintiff is a child, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice run until two years after the child turns 18 years of age.
If an allegation is related to a child’s birth and the child was born before July of 2004, the period runs until two years after the child’s 18 birthday but if the child was born after July, 2004, the time period expires on the child’s 13 birthday.
Note that the time periods are not as defining as they may seem. A detailed review of applicable exceptions, extensions and the point at which the time starts to run, is necessary and may not be determinable at a time when you must answer a complaint. As such, it may be best to include your defense, just in case.