The purpose of a statute of limitations is to require the "diligent prosecution of known claims thereby providing necessary finality and predictability in legal affairs, and ensuring that claims will be resolved while the evidence bearing on the issues is reasonably available and fresh." Kaiser Foundation Hospitals v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (Webb) (1977) 19 Cal.3d 329, 336. "The theory is that even if one has a just claim it is unjust not to put the adversary on notice to defend within the period of limitation and that the right to be free of stale claims in time comes to prevail over the right to prosecute them." Gutierrez v. Mofid (1985) 39 Cal.3d 892, 898.
There are different statutes of limitations for different claims. Accordingly, you must file your claims within the applicable statute of limitations or else you may have waived your opportunity to successfully prosecute your claim.
Some of the more common claims and their associated statute of limitations are as follows:
Breach of Written Contract: 4 years (Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 337)
Breach of Oral Contract: 2 years (Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 339)
Fraud: 3 years (Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 338)
Personal Injury: 2 years (Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 335.1)
Defamation: 1 year (Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 340)
Wage and hour violations: 3 years for wage based claims and 1 year for statutory penalties
It is important to understand that the statute of limitations will begin to accrue or start running upon the happening of the event or incident that causes you injury, unless an exception applies. For instance, the statute of limitations for a fraud claim may not begin to run until you have discovered the facts underlying your claim for fraud. The rules and exceptions for the various statutes of limitations can be confusing. That is why it is important to contact an attorney to help you determine whether your claim is viable or not if you think you might have waited too long to take action. You never know, an exception may apply or it may be possible to bootstrap your claim to another claim to defeat the statute of limitations in question.
Bottom line: if you are harmed, damaged, or injured, do not wait to enforce your rights. Contact an attorney right away so that all of your rights remain intact and enforceable. If you have any questions regarding the applicable statute of limitations for your claim, do not hesitate to contact Paschall Law to discuss.