Buffington Law Firm’s business litigation attorney team has dealt extensively with cases in which the Statutes of Limitations is a critical issue. The Statute of Limitations can often bar what would otherwise have been a strong and meritorious claim. One of the heartbreaking things that happens all too often in our business, trust, and real estate litigation practice is that we are contacted by a client who has been defrauded or victimized in some way. Once we arrange for the client’s free legal consultation and examine the evidence in more detail, it turns out that the claim is several years old, and incontrovertibly barred by the applicable Statute of Limitations. There are few things less pleasant than having to tell a potential client that while he or she absolutely had a meritorious claim, that due to the client’s delay the lawsuit cannot be effectively brought. On the other hand, many times Buffington Law Firm’s business attorneys have successfully defended a client based upon the Statutes of Limitations. We recommend that you review our Article: What To Do if You Have a Legal Claim.
The Statutes of Limitations are designed to prevent persons from bringing old, stale claims by barring claims that should have been brought within a time prescribed by one of the many Statutes. The notion is that when a person has a claim, he or she should bring it timely. Otherwise, the memories of witnesses fade, evidence becomes harder to find, certain records become unavailable, etc. Further, the law favors finality, and it is public policy that if a person is subject to being sued on a claim, there should be a limited time where the potential defendant has to live with that worrisome possibility – people should be able to get on with their lives and not have potential liability hanging over their heads for an unreasonable time.
There are many Statutes of Limitations, depending on the type of claim involved. Often it requires a lawyer’s legal analysis to determine which Statute of Limitations applies to a given situation. For this reason, delay is death! Often a client delays, thinking that there is plenty of time to bring the claim, only to find that time ran out much more quickly than they thought. Don’t let this happen to you.
People delay bringing lawsuits for all kinds of reasons, most of them bad. Often, potential defendants are very aware of the applicable Statute of Limitation, and they will engage in a letter writing exercise with the potential plaintiff in an effort (often successful) to “run out the clock” on the applicable time limitation. Letters fly back and forth for years, while the aggrieved party thinks that he or she is “dealing” with the issue. In reality the claimant should have consulted a lawyer and filed a lawsuit – the letter writing serves only to dig the grave of the claim by running afoul of the Statute of Limitation.
There are too many Statutes of Limitations to cover in this relatively brief Blog article, but here are some of the more common ones:
· Fraud – 3 years. Cal. Code of Civil Procedure Section 338(d)
· Breach of Contract (Written) – 4 years. Cal. Code of Civil Procedure Section 337.
· Breach of Contract (Oral) – 2 years. Cal. Code of Civil Procedure Section 339.
· Libel or Slander – 1 year; Cal. Code of Civil Procedure Section 340(c).
· Personal Injury – 2 years. Cal. Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1.
In California, generally the only way to “stop the clock” on the applicable Statute of Limitation for a claim is to file a lawsuit. Writing letters does not help, filing a claim with some company’s “Compliance Department” does not help. Filing a lawsuit in court is what stops the clock on a Statute of Limitations.
If you believe that you have a claim, or if you are being sued, we invite you to contact our office for a free legal consultation. You will speak directly to one of Buffington Law Firm’s experienced attorneys and all discussions are completely confidential.