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West Virginia Statute of Limitations on Debt

Melissa Lyken | December 27, 2023

Melissa Lyken
Legal Expert, Paralegal
Melissa Lyken, BS

Melissa Lyken is a senior paralegal and legal-finance content writer with over eight years of professional legal and business experience and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Community Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Fact-checked by George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons
Co-Founder of SoloSuit
George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons is the co-founder and CEO of SoloSuit. He has helped Americans protect over $1 billion from predatory debt lawsuits. George graduated from BYU Law school in 2020 with a JD/MBA. In his spare time, George likes to cook, because he likes to eat.

Summary: The West Virginia statute of limitations is ten years for debts resulting from credit cards, medical services, mortgage, and most types of loans. For debts arising from an oral contract, the limit is five years. You can use SoloSuit’s Debt Answer template to bring up the WV statute of limitations as a defense in your case.

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.

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What is the statute of limitations in West Virginia?

The statute of limitations is basically a deadline for creditors to sue you for unpaid debts. This clock starts ticking when you fail to make a payment you owe.

So, how long does a creditor have to sue you? That depends on two things: the laws of the state you're in and the type of debt you have.

In West Virginia, the statute of limitations on most debts is typically ten years, but there are different time limits for some kinds of debts. Let's explore these various types of debts and find out how long each one gives creditors to take legal action.

West Virginia statute of limitations on debt varies by the type of debt

The statute of limitations on debt in West Virginia is ten years for most types of debt, including credit card, medical, mortgage, loan debt, and judgments. For debt arising from an oral contract, the West Virginia statute of limitations is five years.

The table below further outlines the statute of limitations on debt in West Virginia:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in West Virginia

Debt Type Deadline
Oral Contract 5 years
Credit Card 10 years
Medical 10 years
Student Loan 10 years
Auto Loan 10 years
Mortgage 10 years
Personal Loan 10 years
Judgment 10 years
Source: W. Va. Code § 38-3-18 and § 55-2-6

Now, let’s take a closer look at what West Virginia law actually says.

W.V. Code § 55-2-6 states:

“Every action to recover money, which is founded upon an award, or on any contract other than a judgment or recognizance, shall be brought within the following number of years next after the right to bring the same shall have accrued, that is to say:

If the case be upon an indemnifying bond taken under any statute, or upon a bond of an executor, administrator or guardian, curator, committee, sheriff or deputy sheriff, clerk or deputy clerk, or any other fiduciary or public officer, within ten years;

if it be upon any other contract in writing under seal, within ten years;

if it be upon an award, or upon a contract in writing, signed by the party to be charged thereby, or by his agent, but not under seal, within ten years;

and if it be upon any other contract, express or implied, within five years, unless it be an action by one party against his copartner for a settlement of the partnership accounts, or upon accounts concerning the trade or merchandise between merchant and merchant, their factors or servants, where the action of account would lie, in either of which cases the action may be brought until the expiration of five years from a cessation of the dealings in which they are interested together, but not after.”

This law defines the time periods within which various types of legal actions to recover money must be initiated. The start of the statute of limitations, or the time frame within which you must bring a legal action, is triggered by the "accrual" of the right to bring the action. In simple terms, this means the statute of limitations starts when the event occurs that gives you the right to sue.

Here's how it applies to different situations:

  • For Bonds and Certain Fiduciary Contracts (10 Years): If the action involves a bond (like an indemnifying bond under a statute, or bonds related to executors, administrators, guardians, public officers, etc.), you have ten years from when the right to sue accrues.
  • Contracts in Writing Under Seal (10 Years): If it's a contract in writing that is under seal, the statute of limitations is also ten years.
  • Other Written Contracts Not Under Seal (10 Years): This includes any written contract that's signed by the party or their agent but not under seal. The limitation period is ten years.
  • Other Contracts, Express or Implied (5 Years): For other types of contracts, whether they're explicitly agreed upon or implied by actions, the statute of limitations is five years.
  • Exceptions for Partnerships and Merchant Accounts: For actions between partners for partnership account settlements or accounts concerning trade between merchants, the time limit is five years from the cessation of the dealings in which the parties are jointly involved.

In all these cases, the "right to bring the same shall have accrued" generally refers to when the breach of contract or other actionable event occurred. For instance, if it's a case of non-payment on a contract, the statute of limitations would typically start from the date the payment was due and not paid.

Understanding when exactly a right accrues can sometimes be complex and may depend on the specifics of the situation.

Think the statute of limitations expired on your debt? File a response with SoloSuit.

The West Virginia statute of limitations can protect you

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.

Use the statute of limitations as a defense in West Virginia.

Tolling may affect the statute of limitations

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.

Likewise, when a debt lawsuit is filed in West Virginia court, the statute of limitations on that debt is tolled, meaning the clock on the statute stops ticking from the date of filing. This tolling rule is outlined in W.V. Code § 55-2-21, which states:

“After a civil action is commenced, the running of any statute of limitation is tolled for, and only for, the pendency of that civil action as to any claim that has been or may be asserted in the civil action by counterclaim, whether compulsory or permissive, or cross-claim.”

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.

If your debt is less than ten years old in West Virginia, you may want to consider the option to settle your debt before your court debt.

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