How long after someone incurs a debt to you, can you still sue them?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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How long after someone incurs a debt to you, can you still sue them?

I co-signed for my stepdaughter’s car. The loan was upside down due to a trade-in with a balance. She then lent the car to her friend who got drunk and totaled it. After insurance paid out there was a $7,000 balance which I had to pay off to keep my credit score. It was now been 5 years since the accident and someone said I should have sued the friend, as she had agreed to pay for it but only gave me $100. Could I still sue for the $7,000 I paid out. Is it too late now.

Asked on September 25, 2015 under Bankruptcy Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

d on what you write, it is to late to sue. The "statute of limitations" is how long you have to file a lawsuit if you don't file the suit within that time frame, you cannot sue. In Washington state, the statutes of limitations for property damage e.g. totaling the car and for an oral/verbal agreement the agreement to pay is only 3 years. In California, the statutes are 3 and 2 years, respectively. Therefore, in both states in which you could potentially have sued, based on what you write, it is too late to pay.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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