Discovery and the Discovery Rule
Even if you were just to put the two phrases side by side, it is pretty clear which has the more positive connotation. The Discovery Rule has the word “discovery” in it so the phrase implies potential hope and promise. On the other hand, we have statutes of limitations. “Statute” sounds intimidating and all you are left with is “limitations.” Wordplay aside, if there are defects that need reporting in a particular construction project, the clock is ticking immediately upon completion project according to the statute of limitations. With the application of the Discovery Rule, the statute of limitations does not begin and the clock does not start ticking until the current owners have taken control and gained access to a report of all defects.
In construction law, for example, with breach of contract, property damage and consumer fraud claims, there is a six-year statute of limitations. The Discovery Rule takes into consideration the occurrence of defects or flaws that are not readily apparent until sometime after completion of the project. Courts realize this. As a result, courts can legally suspend, or “toll” the statute of limitations to accommodate for this, depending on the facts of your case.
STATUTE OF REPOSE
Once the construction project is complete, in NJ, there is a 10 year Statute of Repose for construction matters. If a defect is discovered later than 10 years, it is the proverbial “game over” in your legal matter, and the Discovery Rule will not help you.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Did you ever think about prevention? It is a safe bet that homeowners who have had legal struggles over poor workmanship discovered well after the fact wish they could have caught it as it was happening, during construction. The lesson learned is to look out for early signs of shoddy workmanship before completion and before the six-year statute of limitations (for example, for breach of contract, property damage and consumer fraud claims). Do not even count on the Discovery Rule to extend the six years. You may want to hire a licensed inspector inspect for any structural defects. Spending money on the inspection may save you thousands of dollars down the road in litigation that you might be able to prevent.
The business of construction is a rough one and construction law is not the least bit gentle. If you take but one moment, you must realize that all of these time traps benefit the developers and builders. While the Discovery Rule may extend that cap, the Statute of Repose is waiting at the other end. Simply put, these are not matters in which doing it yourself is highly advisable. At the very least, an experienced attorney can help navigate or point you in the right direction.
If you have any questions regarding construction law and litigation, contact the Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC for a free consultation. The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
Please be advised that this blog is for informational purposes only, is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC
is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
Call (609) 585-0606 or click the button below to schedule an appointment