Melissa Lyken | December 01, 2022
Summary: Is a debt collector pursuing one of your old debts in West Virginia? Find out what to do when you believe the West Virginia statute of limitations has expired.
Are you being sued for an old debt in West Virginia? You may be wondering how this old debt has come back to haunt you. You might have defaulted on the debt many years ago and forgot all about it.
You probably want to know if the statute of limitations already expired on that debt. But if you needed additional time to pay your debt or made a few payments after you defaulted, you might have reset the clock for the statute of limitations. Let's take a closer look at the statute of limitations laws in West Virginia and see what you can do to stop that old creditor in their tracks.
The statute of limitations refers to the prescriptive period or the amount of time a creditor has to file a collection suit against a debtor. The period provided in the statute of limitations will start to run from the time the debtor defaults on their obligations.
How long does a creditor have to file a collection suit against a debtor? The answer to this question depends on the statute of limitations specific to your state and the type of debt you owe.
Now that you know what a statute of limitations is let's take a closer look at the categories of debts in West Virginia and their prescriptive periods.
There are eight categories of debts in West Virginia. And these debts have different prescriptive periods. Here are the types of debts in West Virginia:
Written Contracts – 10 years
A written contract is a signed agreement between the creditor and debtor where the nature of the debt, amount of debt, and the maturity date is stated. If the debt is based on a written contract like medical debt, the creditor may file a collection lawsuit within ten (10) years from the time the debtor defaulted on their obligation.
Oral Agreements, Unwritten and Implied Contracts- 5 years
These contracts are verbal or implied agreements made by the creditor and debtor. For this kind of debt, the prescriptive period given is five (5) years from the date of default.
Promissory Notes - 6 years
In this type of debt, the creditor has six (6) years to file a lawsuit from when the debtor defaulted on paying their obligation. A promissory note is a negotiable instrument that contains the debtor's written promise to pay the creditor the principal amount of the debt plus interest, if any, on or before the maturity date stated in the promissory note.
Auto Loan- 4 years
For auto loans, creditors have four (4) years from the default date to file a collection lawsuit.
Open Accounts- 5 years
An open account is a debt commonly referred to as an account payable. An Open Account may also include trade lines of credit. Open accounts may also consist of services completed by a vendor or contractor that remains outstanding. Creditors have five (5) years to file their debt collection suit for the sum of money owed on an open account.
Credit Cards- 10 years
If the debt is for the non-payment of an outstanding balance on a credit card, then the creditor has ten (10) years to file a collection lawsuit against the debtor.
Sales Contract- 1- 4 years
A sales contract is also referred to as a purchase agreement or sales of goods agreement. Debts from a sales contract have a default prescriptive period of four (4) years from when the breach of contract occurred or when the breach of contract is discovered. However, this period may be reduced to no less than one (1) year but not more than four (4) years if agreed by the parties.
Judgments- 10 years
In West Virginia, in the context of debts, judgments may refer to a bond or recognizance. Legal action on these debts may be enforced by the creditor within ten (10) years from when the judgment is entered.
If you default on your debt, it is beneficial for you to know how long your creditor has to file a lawsuit until that debt becomes time-barred. This refers to the expiration of the prescriptive period. If the creditor fails to file the collection lawsuit within the prescriptive period, provided the debt will become time-barred, meaning they cannot legally sue you for it.
If your debt becomes time-barred, and you still owe the creditor, that obligation is not legally enforceable. The creditor cannot oblige a debtor to pay the debt, but the creditor may still attempt to collect. If this is the case in your lawsuit, you will want to let the court know the prescriptive period for your debt lapsed when you file your Answer.
Tolling essentially pauses the time during the prescriptive period. Tolling generally happens if you request additional time to pay your debt or when you begin repayment. When you initially default on the debt, the clock starts ticking. If you start making payments on your debt during this time, the prescriptive period pauses, and tolling begins.
Here is an example: Let's say you owe money on a credit card. After you defaulted, the creditor starts hounding you to pay the debt one year after default, so you start making payments to them. In this case, 1/10 years passed of the prescriptive period. The moment you start making payments again, the clock stops on the prescriptive period. If you were unable to continue making payments, the clock restarted on the statute of limitations.
If you made any payments on the debt and couldn't pay any more, you will want to consider this when calculating the prescriptive period for your suit.
Being haunted by old debts is frustrating. Use this information to help assess the statute of limitations on your debt and win your lawsuit.
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Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
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