Equitable Tolling Law and Legal Definition

Equitable tolling is a legal principle evolved from the common law of equity. Equitable tolling states that the statute of limitations will not bar a claim if the plaintiff, despite reasonable care and diligent efforts, did not discover the injury until after the limitations period had expired.

The doctrine of equitable tolling means only that the running of the statute is suspended, not that the limitations period begins over again. Thus, even if the limitations period was suspended during the pendency of the initial suit, it would have resumed after the first suit was dismissed. Equitable tolling also means that a person is not required to sue within the statutory period if he cannot in the circumstances reasonably be expected to do so. [Dixon v. United States, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 13215 (10th Cir. Okla. 1999)].