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Legal Mistakes You May Be Making: Part 1—Waiting Too Long To File A Lawsuit (Statute of Limitations)

While suing someone is not a decision that should be taken lightly, waiting too long to file a lawsuit causes many problems, including:

(1) The dismissal of your case,


(2) Increased legal fees and costs, and

(3) Lost evidence.

First, there is only a certain period of time you have to file a lawsuit. This is commonly known as the statute of limitations. See Utah Code § 78B-2-102. The amount of time you have depends on the type of case. The different statutes of limitations are typically between six (6) months to eight (8) years. See Utah Code §§ 78B-2-117; 78B-2-201 to 78B-2-226; and 78B-2-301 to 78B-2-314. If you do not file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you are precluded from doing so.

There are some exceptions wherein the amount of time you have to file your lawsuit is tolled, in other words, prolonged, if: (1) you were unable to discover the underlying facts to apprise that you had a legal claim; or (2) the defendant fraudulently concealed the harmful conduct from you. SeeRussell Packard Development, Inc. v. Carson, 108 P.3d 741, ¶¶ 21-25, 2005 UT 14 (Utah 2005).

Second, if you postpone filing a lawsuit, it often increases your legal expenses, including attorney’s fees and costs. Your expenses can increase due to litigation over corresponding statute of limitations issues, which you would not have had to spend if you had filed your lawsuit on a timely basis. In fact, even though your case would have won on the merits, defendants may be able to get your case dismissed due to your failure to file it within the applicable statute of limitations.

Third, if you wait too long to file your lawsuit, you may not be able to find important evidence to prove your case. As time passes by, crucial witnesses move away or die, and evidence is misplaced or destroyed. Such witnesses or evidence could be the difference between winning or losing your case.

In sum, do not procrastinate meeting with an attorney and filing a lawsuit. As stated above, if you do, it could be the difference between winning or losing your case. At Head Law, we have many years of experience litigating all types of legal disputes, and we will fight to protect you and your family’s rights. If you have a possible legal claim, and are unsure what your options are, we are more than happy to talk with you about your current legal issues.