All states have developed laws to regulate the time periods within which a person can bring a civil action against another person or entity. These laws are called the “statutes of limitations.” If you sue after this time limit has run, your claim is barred and the defendant will automatically win. Read on to learn more about Utah's civil statute of limitations laws.
When Does the Time Limit Begin?
The time period to sue doesn’t start to run until the person knew or should have known they suffered a harm and the nature of that harm. For example, a woman takes a fertility medication to have a child. Fifteen years later, she discovers her child has a reproductive system problem that didn’t show up until puberty and it’s discovered that all of the women who took this fertility medication have children with the same defect. She wasn’t warned of this possible problem until the child was older. The child’s time limit to sue for damages didn’t start when her mom first took the medicine, but when she discovered or reasonably should have discovered the related harm to her.
However, if the drug company had a national campaign exposing the problem and contacted all former users to inform them of the problem, and the child, now an adult, still waited 15 more years to sue, it would probably be too late. This is called the “discovery of harm rule” and generally doesn’t apply to the most common personal injury claims, like car accidents and slip and falls.
Tolling of the Statute of Limitations
The time period to sue can be extended for various reasons, based on the legal concept of “tolling.” Generally, being under the age of majority, 18 years old in Utah, or having a mental disability causes the clock to stop. If someone suffered from severe mental illness for many years and was harmed during this time, it would be unfair to expect him or her to have the mental capacity to sue.
The following chart lists the statute of limitations for various types of civil cases in Utah.
|Code Sections||Utah Code Title 78B: Judicial Code, Chapter 2: Statute of Limitations|
|Wrongful Death||Cases for the wrongful death of a family member must be brought within two years or one year if against a city, town, or county government|
|Injury to Person||Four years|
|Injury to Personal Property||Three years|
|Injury to Real Property or Trespass||Three years|
|Libel or Slander||One year|
|Medical Malpractice||Two years after discovering or reasonably should have discovered the injury caused by health care provider, but not more than four years from the date of act, omission, neglect, or occurrence|
|Contracts||Four years if an oral or verbal contract, six years if the contract was in writing|
|Collection of Rent||For commercial leases, four years, but can agree to a shorter time limit for rent collection in the original lease, as short as one year.
For residential leases, typically, a money judgment is entered after eviction and the judgment can be enforced for eight years, see below.
|Collection of Debt for a Credit Card or Account||Four years|
If you think you have a claim and it’s been enough time since the damage occurred that you don’t know if you can still bring it, you should consult an experienced civil litigation attorney in Utah.
Note: State laws are revised constantly by lawmakers, the vote of the people, and judges. Therefore, you should contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these state laws.
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Questions About Utah Civil Statute of Limitations Laws? Ask an Attorney
Utah's civil statute of limitations often depends on the type of injury involved. A good Utah attorney can find the right cause of action which doesn't violate Utah's statute of limitations to help maximize your financial award. If you're dealing with a personal injury or business matter requiring legal attention, it's in your best interest to contact a local litigation attorney who can ensure that you're within Utah's civil statute of limitations laws.
Contact a qualified attorney.