December 14, 2020

What You Need to Know About Statute of Limitations

When injured, you only have a certain amount of time to file a successful lawsuit, and this is known as the statute of limitations. This clock usually starts as soon as the accident takes place.  In some circumstances it may begin when a victim becomes fully aware of his or her injury.  

Common Statutes of Limitations

To give you an idea of what to expect, the following list includes typical statutes of limitations for common disputes in California: 

  • Personal injury: Two years from the injury. If the injury was not discovered right away, then it is 1 year from the date the injury was discovered.
  • Breach of a written contract:  Four years from the date the contract was broken.
  • Breach of an oral contract: Two years from the date the contract was broken.
  • Property damage: Three years from the date the damage occurred.
  • Claims against government agencies: You must file a claim with the agency within 6 months of the incident. A lawsuit in court is usually required within a year of the claim.

How Likely am I to Get an Extension?

While extensions of time are not likely, there are a couple instances in which a statute of limitations may be extended.  Possible reasons include:

Delayed Discovery

Sometimes, a person does not realize until later that he or she is the victim of wrongdoing. For example, in medical malpractice, a patient may be unaware of a mistake made by their doctor until days, or months later.  In such cases, the statute of limitations would start once the victim learns of the wrongdoing. 

Capacity of Victim

This exception pertains to those who suffer from a mental illness that may inhibit one’s reasoning or ability to make decisions. 

Age of Victim

The age of the victim also plays a crucial role. Special rules govern claims for those under the age of 18. 

What Exactly is “Tolling”

Tolling refers to the suspension of a statute of limitations. It is possible that a statute can essentially be paused, or tolled, for a period of time. Then, the time starts again. The most common cases to be eligible for tolling include someone who is out of state, in prison, under the age of 18, or has been legally deemed insane. The scope of tolling can be very narrow, and the specifics surrounding this exception absolutely require a sharpened legal mind. If you think your case is eligible for tolling, contact a lawyer to protect your rights.