What is Statute of Limitations?

Each state has a time limit, called a statute of limitations, as to when a small claims case may be filed. Before filing your case, be sure that the time limit for doing so has not expired. If it has, you cannot file your case. If, for example, a friend has owed you a sum of money for the last five years, but the statute of limitations for bringing a suit to recover your money in your state is four years, you cannot file a small claim for the sum you're owed.

Time limits differ by state depending on the type of claim. The time limit for a contract case begins when the contract is breached or broken. For a personal injury or property damage case, it's the date the injury or damage occurs. The statute of limitations for written contract disputes is often longer than for personal injury claims. See the chart below for the statute of limitations, listed in numbers of years, for the four most common categories under which your claim may fall.

Statute of Limitations in Years

State

Written Contracts

Oral Contracts

Personal Injury

Property Damage
Personal/Real Estate

Alabama

6

6

2

6

 

Alaska

3

3

2

2

6

Arizona

6

3

2

2

 

Arkansas

5

3

3

3

 

California

4

2

2

3

 

Colorado*

6

6

2

2

 

Connecticut

6

3

2

2

 

Delaware

3

3

2

2

 

District of Columbia

3

3

3

3

 

Florida

5

4

4

4

 

Georgia

6

4

2

4

 

Hawaii

6

6

2

2

 

Idaho

5

4

2

3

 

Illinois

10

5

2

5

 

Indiana

10

6

2

2

6

Iowa

10

5

2

5

 

Kansas

5

3

2

2

 

Kentucky

15

5

1

2

5

Louisiana

10

10

1

1

 

Maine

6

6

6

6

 

Maryland

3

3

3

3

 

Massachusetts

6

6

3

3

 

Michigan

6

6

3

3

 

Minnesota

6

6

2

6

 

Mississippi

3

3

3

3

 

Missouri

5

5

5

5

 

Montana

8

5

3

2

 

Nebraska

5

4

4

4

 

Nevada

6

4

2

3

 

New Hampshire

3

3

3

3

 

New Jersey

6

6

2

6

 

New Mexico

6

4

3

4

 

New York

6

6

3

3

 

North Carolina

3

3

3

3

 

North Dakota

6

6

6

6

 

Ohio

15

6

2

4

2

Oklahoma

5

3

2

2

 

Oregon

6

6

2

6

 

Pennsylvania

4

4

2

2

 

Rhode Island

10

10

3

10

 

South Carolina

3

3

3

3

 

South Dakota

6

6

3

6

 

Tennessee

6

6

1

3

 

Texas

4

4

2

2

 

Utah

6

4

4

3

 

Vermont

6

6

3

3

 

Virginia

5

3

2

5

 

Washington

6

3

3

3

 

West Virginia

10

5

2

2

 

Wisconsin

6

6

3

6

 

Wyoming

10

8

4

4

 

*The statue of limitations for cases involving motor vehicle repair, tort actions such as those based on assault or battery, or security deposits in which triple damages are being sought is 1 year. The SOL for bad check cases in which triple damages are being sought or any type of action against health care providers, hospitals, pharmacies, dentists, optometrists and veterinarians is 2 years. The SOL on contract cases, actions involving bodily injury or property damage arising out of a motor vehicle accident, and those alleging fraud or misrepresentation is 3 years. The SOL on actions to recover bad debts or unpaid loans or for bad checks where triple damages are not being sought is 6 years.

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