Of course this 2013 MS Code Title 15 – Limitations of Actions and Prevention of Frauds § 15-1 covers more than just civil statutes, but for the purpose of this discussion, we will focus only on civil statutes, and even more specifically, collection of debt and judgments. So first of all, what do we mean by civil statute of limitation? The definition is a statute prescribing a period of limitation for the bringing of certain kinds of legal action. In other words, this law sets the maximum amount of time that a party has to initiate legal proceedings against another party they have a dispute with and the time starts from the date of an alleged offense – whether criminal or civil.
Maybe you’ve had a car accident and it’s been a while or you have an old credit card debt, hospital bill, or other issue that you thought was long gone, but you’ve been served papers regarding a new or updated lawsuit. Hasn’t enough time passed? How are they still suing you over this issue? Collection of Debt on Account is covered under Mississippi Code 15-1-29 and states a 3 year limit. A Judgement (a lawsuit that was filed against you and was ruled in favor of the company/person that filed against you) is covered under Mississippi Code 15-1-43 and states a 7 year period. The courts have these limitations in order to create as much fairness and predictability as possible. You have a certain amount of time for legal action to be taken against you and it guarantees that you don’t have unfinished legal matters hanging over your head indefinitely. There are deadlines and all parties must take action accordingly or take no action at all.
The key to this is understanding when the clock starts and to be sure you don’t restart it by an action you take. For example, the date of the debt is now over 3 years old but you decide to repay the debt and send a letter to the creditor of a promise to repay. You may have restarted the clock. Or if, when working with a creditor on extending repayment, you sign a waiver of the statute of limitations – this means the creditor has more time to sue.
Judgments are only good for so long but can be renewed and potentially become permanent through that process. If the judgment lapses, then the creditor can no longer garnish your wages, attach to your bank account, seize your property, or make you appear for a debtor’s examination. In MS, a judgment can only be renewed if the existing judgment has not expired.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a collection account and/or judgment can show up on your credit report for at least 7 years.
If you are being sued and you feel that you have a case involving a breach of the statute of limitation, speak to an attorney. Details must be provided in order to ascertain whether or not the statutes have been properly followed. If you go to court on your own involving a lawsuit of this nature, you can request the Judge to review and ensure that statute of limitations is followed. I very much recommend that you speak to an attorney who can fight for you using the full weight of the laws that protect you as a consumer.
As of Oct 2021, the codes read as follows (disclaimer: this blog is not meant to perpetually maintain the current version of these codes. Go to the state site for that)
§ 15-1-29 – Limitations applicable to actions on accounts and unwritten contracts (Collection of Debts)
Except as otherwise provided in the Uniform Commercial Code, actions on an open account or account stated not acknowledged in writing, signed by the debtor, and on any unwritten contract, express or implied, shall be commenced within three (3) years next after the cause of such action accrued, and not after, except that an action based on an unwritten contract of employment shall be commenced within one (1) year next after the cause of such action accrued, and not after.
§ 15-1-43 – Limitations applicable to actions founded on domestic judgments or decrees; renewal of judgment or decree; notice of renewal (Judgments)
All actions founded on any judgment or decree rendered by any court of record in this state (MS), shall be brought within seven (7) years next after the rendition of such judgment or decree, or last renewal of judgment or decree, whichever is later. A judgment or decree can be renewed only if, at the time of renewal, the existing judgment or decree has not expired.
The renewal of such judgment is effective as of the date of the filing of the Notice of Renewal with the clerk of the court that rendered such judgment. The renewal of judgment shall be treated in the same manner as the previously rendered judgment. The circuit clerk shall enroll the Notice of Renewal showing the date of the filing of the Notice of Renewal, and the lien of the renewal of such judgment continues from the date of the enrollment of the existing judgment. The right to renew a judgment in any other manner allowed by law instead of using the above Notice of Renewal remains unimpaired.
At the time of the filing of the Notice of Renewal of Judgment, the judgment creditor or his attorney shall make and file with the clerk of the court that rendered the judgment an affidavit setting forth the name and last-known post office address of the judgment debtor and the judgment creditor. Promptly upon the filing of the Notice of Renewal of Judgment, the clerk shall mail notice of the filing of the Notice of Renewal of Judgment to the judgment debtor at the address given and shall make a note of the mailing in the docket. The notice shall include the name and post office address of the judgment creditor and the judgment creditor’s attorney, if any, in this state. In addition, the judgment creditor may mail a notice of the filing of the Notice of Renewal of Judgment to the judgment debtor and may file proof of mailing with the clerk. Lack of mailing notice of filing by the clerk shall not affect the validity of the renewal of judgment if proof of mailing by the judgment creditor has been filed.