What is a Statute of Limitations

By: Frank H. Bailey, Founder/Senior Partner

ABA Statute of LimitationsYou may hear people talking about the statute of limitations for a case.  What are they talking about?

The statute of limitations is a set of statutory time limits for filing a lawsuit that requires a case to be filed with a Court within a certain period of time.  These time limits are important for a couple of reasons.  They prevent a person from threatening a lawsuit indefinitely.  Another generally accepted reason for this law is to protect defendants from having to defend a case that occurred years ago, after witnesses have died, and evidence has been lost.  Generally, this is a good law and does not cause problems.  Sometimes the statute of limitations will work against people with legitimate cases.  We will talk about that in more depth a little later.

In Arkansas, most claims must be filed within three years from the date of the incident.  This three-year statute includes cases of personal injury, (ACA 16-56-104), injury to property, (ACA 16-56-105) and libel, (16-56-105).  Medical malpractice cases must be filed in two years from the date of the injury with very few narrow exceptions (16-114-203).

In Arkansas, contracts not in writing have a statute of limitations of three years (ACA 16-56-105).  Debts for medical services have a statute of limitations of two years from the date the service was rendered, or from the date of the last partial payment (ACA 16-56-106).

Let’s talk about some instances where the statute of limitations can cause problems.  Parents are responsible for payment of their child’s medical expenses.  If their child was injured at birth and the injury does not become apparent until after the two-year statute for malpractice has run, the parents may not be able to collect for medical expenses of the child.  If a patient does not discover malpractice until after the two-year statute has run, they may not be able to bring a lawsuit.  These are a couple of instances where the statute can cause a problem.

If you have questions about the statute of limitations in your case, call 479-202-5200 and talk to one of our experienced attorneys or just drop by.  Our office is located just off I-49 in Rogers Arkansas.  We serve all of Arkansas and parts of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Tennessee.  We are like old fashioned doctors, we make house calls and listen to our clients.

Bailey & Oliver Law Firm, 3606 W. Southern Hills Blvd., Ste. 200, Rogers, AR 72758

(Photo from the Arkansas Bar Association website.  To review a copy of the ABA 'A Guide to Arkansas Statute of Limitations', visit the Arkansas Bar Association website www.arkbar.com.)