Should you ever want to bring a lawsuit against another person or organization, one of the most important reasons to consider consulting an attorney is to avoid missing the statute of limitations, or SOL, which can bar you from bringing your claim if you delay too long.
A statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit and the SOL for each state differs. Most of the time, the clock begins to run from the time an injury or wrong occurs. In California, there are general statutes of limitations for a broad range of claims, such as:
- Personal injury: Two years (This includes a civil action for assault, battery, or the wrongful death of an individual. If the injury was not discovered right away, then it is 1 year from the date the injury was discovered if they delay in the discovery was reasonable.).
- Libel or Slander – One year.
- Breach of a written contract – Four years.
- Breach of an oral contract – Two years.
- Fraud – Three years.
- Property damage or trespass – Three years.
Keep in mind that that these categories are general guidelines and that your experienced personal injury lawyer will best be able to explain the specifics of your case and the numerous scenarios that potentially bring their own set of statutes of limitations or exceptions into play. A few include:
- Government Agencies – Certain government agencies require that you file an administrative claim against them within 6 months of a wrongful incident in order to preserve your right to file suit.
- Sexual Abuse – Civil claims stemming from childhood sexual abuse can be filed up to 8 years after the victim’s 18th birthday, or 3 years after the victim realizes that he or she suffers from physical or psychological injury stemming from childhood sexual abuse.
- Legal Malpractice – One year after the plaintiff discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the facts constituting the malpractice of the attorney, or four years from the date of the wrongful act or omission, whichever occurs first.
- Medical Malpractice – Three years after the date of injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or treasonably should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first.
- Asbestos – Within one year from when a plaintiff first suffered from an asbestos-related disability, or within one year from when he or she should have reasonably known that such disability was caused or contributed to by such exposure (whichever is later).
Other factors can delay or “toll” a statue of limitations in certain instances; including when the victim is a minor or mentally incompetent during the time of the initial injury.
To best protect your legal rights, consult a qualified attorney soon after suffering an injury or wrongful action. Undue delay can result in deadlines passing without you realizing it, thus jeopardizing your ability to fully protect your rights and recover any damages that you may be entitled to.
For more information on the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in California, contact the aggressive trial lawyers at BIKLAW today.