By Christine Anderson Ferraris

A statute of limitation is a law that defines the maximum amount of time that those involved in a dispute must file a lawsuit. In general, once the statute of limitation on a case “runs out,” the legal claim cannot be pursued.

The period during which you can file a lawsuit varies depending on the type of legal claim and related conduct. Acts by a potential party could extend the deadline of a statute of limitation.
Statutes of Limitation for state claims vary from state to state but are dictated by each state’s law. To determine a specific claim deadline, you will need to know what state law applies and review that state’s law on the statute of limitation.

Often in statutes of limitation, the trigger date to start the statute of limitation is when the “cause of action accrues.” When a cause of action accrues can be an issue that is disputed, especially if you are close to the deadline in filing a lawsuit.

Determining the statute of limitation deadline and triggering date is not always straightforward and easy to calculate. If you have any doubts about how to calculate the time you must file a claim, you should consult with a lawyer who focuses on that type of claim because they will understand the nuances of determining the statute of limitation deadlines and be able to analyze your circumstances to provide clarity.

In Arizona, Arizona Revised Statute §12-550 requires that all claims must be brought within four (4) years of the triggering date of the statute of limitation.

Other statutes for specific types of claims may be shorter, such as:
Injury to property or person, conversion, trespass, defamation: have a two year statute of limitation. Arizona Revised Statute §12-542.
Breach of a written contract for a debt has a six year statute of limitation. Arizona Revised Statute §12-548.
Breach of a verbal debt obligation or fraud contract has a three year statute of limitation.
Some crimes, such as murder, often have no statute of limitation period.

Federal Law-Constitution Statutes of Limitations

Time limits for violations of constitutional rights will depend upon the rights violated and procedural requirements. There is no statute of limitation contained within the language of 42 USC §1983. However, the United States Supreme Court decided in the case, Owens v Okure, 488 US 235, 240 (1989) that 42 USC §1988 requires courts to use analogous state statutes of limitation for federal constitutional violation claims under 42 USC §1983.


Statutes of limitation can be suspended (“tolled”) for a time. Tolling can occur if a party is a minor, is out of the state, or if the injury isn’t discovered right away. When the reason for the tolling ends, the statute of limitation period will continue to accrue.

As mentioned, the law that applies to your specific situation may have exceptions. Talk to a professional experienced in the area of law to clarify the statute of limitation that applies to your specific circumstances.

The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general informational purposes only. This information may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Links provided are only for the convenience of the reader, A. Ferraris Law, PLLC and its members do not endorse the contents of the third-party references.

Copyright©2021, A. Ferraris Law, PLLC. All Rights Reserved.

Christine Anderson Ferraris and her firm, A. Ferraris Law, assist consumers and business owners harmed by the government, or another business. She has been for several years the race director for the CV50/50 children’s trail run in Colossal Cave Mountain Park each November.

About author View all posts

Guest Author