What is Equitable Tolling?

Legal Definition
Equitable tolling is a principle of law stating that a statute of limitations shall not bar a claim in cases where the plaintiff, despite use of due diligence, could not or did not discover the injury until after the expiration of the limitations period.

For example, when pursuing one of several legal remedies, the statute of limitations on the remedies not being pursued will be equitably tolled if the plaintiff can show:

  • Timely notice to the adverse party is given within applicable statute of limitations of filing first claim
  • Lack of prejudice to the defendant
  • Reasonable good faith conduct on part of the plaintiff.

It has been held that equitable tolling applies principally if the plaintiff is actively misled by the defendant about the cause of action or is prevented in some extraordinary way from asserting his or her rights. However, it has also been held that the equitable tolling doctrine does not require wrongful conduct on the part of the defendant, such as fraud or misrepresentation.
-- Wikipedia