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For example, say someone suffers an injury that produces a neurological condition years later.

Can the statute of limitations be extended basically indefinitely, up to the point the condition occurs?

Say someone breaches a contract and remains in breach of it for years. Does the clock start only at the first breach, or does it continue forever as long as the contract remains in breached state? I.e., can you evade a lawsuit by making a small breach, which is forgiven, then wait 4 years and then you can breach it all you want because the first breach already occured?

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    Statutes of limitation vary by jurisdiction, by case type, by age of the plaintiff, and probably other factors I forget. A general answer is not possible. I think you'll do better asking one question at a time. – DavidSupportsMonica Jul 31 at 23:57
  • How would age matter? – Mark Ingraham Jul 31 at 23:58
  • Some statutes toll (that is, are held in abeyance) when the possible plaintiff or victim is underage. There can be different specific tolling periods, depending upon the type of claim (civil) and the offense (criminal) involved. – DavidSupportsMonica Aug 1 at 1:11
  • But in normal cases it seems the limitations period is as long as damages accrue – Mark Ingraham Aug 1 at 1:14
  • What is a "normal case?" (for that matter, what is "fairly irrelevant?") I fear you're still looking for a general answer, and my view is that a general answer is not possible. – DavidSupportsMonica Aug 1 at 2:21
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can you evade a lawsuit by making a small breach, which is forgiven, then wait 4 years and then you can breach it all you want because the first breach already occured?

No. Those would be separate breaches of one same contract, and the statute of limitations operates individually for each breach. The waiver of legal action pursuant to the first breach, such as where the injured party lets the statute of limitations expire, does not forfeit filing suit for breaches for which the statute of limitations has not expired.

Even if a party repeatedly breaches one same clause, the injured party can sue for all the breaches for which the statute of limitations has not expired. The fact that those breaches are similar in nature does not tie them to the same deadline for commencing court proceedings.

Is the statute of limitations fairly irrelevant?

No. It is important to distinguish between the date when a breach occurs, and the duration of its harmful effects. The statute of limitations relates only to the former (i.e., the date) even if the duration of its harmful effects coincides with the contract remaining in its breached state.

The reason of being, or one main reason of being, of the statute of limitations is the premise that the parties' memory fades over time. The persistence of harmful effects does not necessarily imply that the defendant and third-parties/witnesses remember the circumstances of the breach. And the greater the delay in commencing court proceedings, the likelier that the defendant and non-parties has disposed/eliminated evidence with which the defendant could dispute the claims or charges. In theory, such factors put the defendant at a disadvantage insofar as these impair his ability to defend & prove his position.

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  • But say I sign a contract to prevent someone using a car. Every time they use the car that is a breach. So if they keep the car isnt that effectively a breach as long as the car is in use? Cant pretty much any contract be written this way so the statute never ends as long as the item in question is being used by the defendant? – Mark Ingraham Aug 2 at 0:16
  • @MarkIngraham "if they keep the car isnt that effectively a breach as long as the car is in use?" Possession does not imply use. Your hypothetical refers only to usage, which in a contract should be defined precisely. For instance, does using refer only to running the car? Keeping the car might be the consideration they give in the contract (be it for purposes of safekeeping or exhibition) in exchange for some compensation you provide to them, running the car being prohibited, though. Drafting a contract requires carefulness so as to preempt loopholes and detrimental outcomes. – Iñaki Viggers Aug 2 at 8:31
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Limitation Acts are multi-faceted and account for such things

For example, , you can look at this guide which lays out the intricacies.

So, for personal injuries for acts or omissions on or after 6/12/02 we have:

First to expire of:

(a) 3 years from the date when the cause of action is discoverable: s50C(1)(a) Limitation Act 1969 (no extension of this period is available); or

(b) 12 years from time when act or omission causing injury or death occurred: s50C(1)(b) Limitation Act 1969 (limited rights of extension exist)

For criteria of discoverability see s50D Limitation Act 1969

Note: For minors, the running of the limitation period is not suspended until minor reaches 18 years if the minor has a capable parent or guardian: s50F(2)(a) Limitation Act 1969 and see also s50A(2) (but see Child Abuse cases below)

Minors injured by parent or guardian or “close associate” of parent or guardian - limitation period commences when minor turns 25, or from date of discovery (whichever is the latter): s50E(1)(a) and (b) Limitation Act 1969 (but see Child Abuse cases below)

Incapacitated person - limitation period not suspended if person is a “protected person”: s50F(2)(b) Limitation Act 1969 Latent injuries - no special provisions

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  • That doenst answer the second part – Mark Ingraham Aug 1 at 6:12

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