What is the timeframe to file a civil suit against a business?

It’s a local mechanic shop where my vehicle was at. My vehicle is gone and owner claims to not know where it is or what happened to it. Also, can I file a civil suit against the individual who owns the shop?

Asked on September 9, 2014 under Business Law, New Mexico


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

There are several different possible causes of action you could bring: for example, breach of contract; negligence; possibly fraud; possibly conversion (theft), if you think they deliberately sold it to someone else (like a chop shop) or that an employee took for  himself. It appears that most statutes of limitation in your state are at least 3 years, so you should have that long to be able to assert some claims.

If the business is not an LLC or corporation, you would be suing the owner directly, since there is no separate business, legally speaking--he and the business are one. If the business is a corporation or LLC, you could sue the owner personally only if you think he might personally be responsible for what happened (e.g. it was his carelessness that got the vehicle lost or misplaced; or he collaborated with someone to steal it). An owner of a corporation of LLC is not liable for company acts simply because he owns the business, but could be liable for his own wrongful acts.

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