How Long Do I Have To Sue For Money Owed To My Business?

If you are considering filing suit against someone because they committed an act that caused harm to your business, you should act as soon after the event occurred as possible.  As a business owner, you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit before you are barred from bringing a lawsuit.  There are many reasons why this is.  Primarily, it is difficult to conduct a trial regarding something that happened many years ago in a manner that is fair to all parties.  People’s memories fade, documents may be misplaced, lost or destroyed, and some potential witnesses may have moved far away or may no longer be alive.  For these reasons, Pennsylvania imposes limits on how long you have to file a lawsuit.

The amount of time you have to file a particular type of lawsuit in Pennsylvania is governed by the Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations.  The statute of limitations for the type of incident depends on the type of the lawsuit.  If you take too long and try to file suit after more years have passed than is allowed under the statute of limitations, you will not win your lawsuit even if you have enough evidence to satisfy the burden of proof.  The last thing you want is to lose your case simply because you took too long to file it.

The time you have to sue as set forth in the statute of limitations begins to run as soon as your claim arises – that is, when the act that caused you harm occurred.  It is possible that the running of the statute of limitations may be temporarily suspended.  This is known as “tolling” of the statute of limitations.  The time that passes while the claim is tolled does not count towards the statute of limitations.  So, in some cases, you may still be able to file a lawsuit even if at first glance it appears that your window for bringing the lawsuit has closed.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of causes of action that may be relevant to businesses and how long the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania is for each matter:

  • Breach of contract (written contract) – 4 years
  • Breach of contract (oral contract) – 4 years
  • Fraud – 2 years
  • Product Liability – 2 years
  • Property Damage – 2 years
  • Legal Malpractice – 2 years
  • Collecting on a Court Judgment – 4 years
  • Action on a bond provided as a security (except by a condemnor in an eminent domain proceeding) – 1 year
  • Action for a payment or performance bond – 1 year

As always, the best way to ensure that your lawsuit will be properly filed before the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations is to speak to an experienced commercial litigation or commercial collections attorneys as soon after an incident occurs.

If you are seeking damages against another company in Chester County, PA, Philadelphia, PA, or the 15th Judicial District of Pennsylvania

I invite you to contact the commercial litigation team at Berkowitz Klein LLP.  Our experienced attorneys have been representing businesses and business owners in the pursuit and defense of commercial litigation and commercial collections matters for over 25 years.  If you have questions about statute of limitations or your business has been cause harm by another business or individual and you would like to file suit, contact Gerald Berkowitz by phone at (610) 889-3200 or by email at gsb@berklein.com.