Statutes of repose and limitations establish different types of deadlines for the assertion of claims. Statutes of repose begin to run at an identifiable time or event and allow a claim to be filed for a specific amount of time after that event has occurred. After the expiration of the repose period, no claim will be deemed to have accrued and none may be filed. A statute of repose does not function to bar an existing cause of action; rather, it prevents what might otherwise be a cause of action from ever arising. Statutes of limitations, on the other hand, commence at the time a claim accrues and run for a specified amount of time. After a claim accrues, the statute of limitations begins to run and an action may be filed until the end of the limitations period or the end of the repose period, whichever comes first.
New Jersey follows the discovery rule, which tolls the running of the statute of limitations until the time when plaintiff has or reasonable should have knowledge of injury and fault. One fundamental difference between the statute of limitations and repose is that the statute of limitations may be tolled, whereas the statute of repose cannot. In New Jersey, the statute of repose period is ten (10) years from the date of substantial completion and the statute of limitations period is six (6) years from the date of accrual of a cause of action.