As an individual and a consumer, you have many options under the law to seek compensation for harm experienced as a result of a company’s wrongdoing. One such option is to file a lawsuit for breach of contract. For example, if you are harmed by a defective product, a breach of warranty action is based on the contract between you and the seller or manufacturer of the goods. If your insurance company fails to live up to its promises to cover you for damages to your home or car, that would also be a breach of contract. What happens if you pay a contractor or repair person for work that is not done, or done improperly? That’s right – breach of contract.
Statute of limitations in Pennsylvania
One thing to keep in mind with any lawsuit is the relevant statute of limitations. The statute of limitations specifies the amount of time an injured party has to file a lawsuit against the party who caused the injury. If the claim is filed too late, it is time-barred, meaning that it cannot be heard and must be dismissed. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for bringing a breach of contract action is four years, whether the contract is in writing or verbal. (See 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5525.) The same is true for breach of a contract for the sale of goods, which includes a breach of warranty action. (See 13 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2725.) (Note that in New Jersey, the statute of limitations for breach of a contract for sale of goods is also four years, while for other contracts it is six years.)
There are two important caveats, however. The first is that the law permits the parties to a contract to shorten the statute of limitations. The particular contract in your situation might therefore contain a provision limiting your time to file a lawsuit to as little as one year. The second is that the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the contract breach, even if the injured party is unaware of it. A breach of warranty claim generally accrues when the goods covered by the warranty are delivered to the buyer, unless the warranty clearly extends to the product’s future performance.
Is there a way to stop the statute from running?
Under certain limited circumstances, the statute of limitations can be tolled – that is, paused for a period of time. For example, if the injured person is a minor or mentally incompetent, the statute of limitated is tolled. Other ways to toll the statute include:
- in a breach of warranty claim, if the seller represents that he will repair the defect, repairs are attempted, and the injured party relies on those repairs; or
- in any contract, the defendant fraudulently concealed the breach. Note that the defendant must engage in an independent act of concealment – merely failing to disclose a breach is not enough.
Consult a Philadelphia consumer protection attorney
Because of the potentially harsh consequences of the statute of limitations, it is important to contact an experienced consumer protection attorney without delay if you have experienced injury resulting from a breach of contract or wrongful treatment. At The Kim Law Firm, LLC, we represent consumers in a variety of matters, and we have the resources and skills to stand up for your rights. Contact us for a consultation today.