What is a Statute of Repose

limit_v_624562The legal system can be a bit more complex than many initially assume. For many, there is the assumption that if one is wronged then ability to seek remedy will always be open ended. This, however, is not an entirely accurate assessment. While it is most definitely possible to seek legal remedy when one has been injured, liabled, or cheated, very few legal proceedings could ever be labeled “open ended”. In many instances, legal proceedings must abide by a statute of repose. For those not familiar with the term, a statute of repose refers to the elimination of legal rights after a specific deadline has been reached or passed.

A statute of repose is obviously very similar to a statute of limitations, but there are a number of factors that differentiate the two. In general, the termination dates surrounding a statute of repose is much more defined than the broader rules found in a statute of limitation. With a statute of limitation, for example, there may be other factors that can extend the deadline. One example would be discovering a recently diagnoses medical condition is the result of a defective product that was ingested several years ago. Hence, the product liability statute of limitation deadline would be amended due to the late discovery of the cause of the injury. With a statue of repose, however, instances of extending a deadline or altering it are very limited and original timeframes for bringing action must be strictly adhered to.

The specific rules surrounding a statute of repose will vary from state to state. Additionally, the rules will vary among the different categories of liability. In Pennsylvania, for example, a number of medical malpractice claims are limited by a seven year statute of repose. However, there are also a number of medical malpractice claims that are not covered under the statute of repose rules. This is why it is important to discuss these statutes with a qualified attorney since expert knowledge on the subject is needed to examine the rules on a case by case basis.

Now, there will be those who assume that the presence of such statutes is a form of injustice. That is, their perception of such statutes views the statutes as a means for negligent parties to use loopholes in the law to avoid penalties. Then, there are others that will assume the presence of such laws is the result of poor legislation designed favor the defendant. Such assessments are not correct and they ignore a very important point of the law: the law must be applied fairly to both sides. It would not be equitable if proceedings were not brought against a defendant within a reasonable time frame. Therefore, the impetus is on the plaintiff to bring suits forward within the proper timeframe allowed under the law.