California Statute of Limitations

AdobeStock_600446210-300x200Anytime you wish to file a lawsuit against someone in California, you need to be mindful of the statute of limitations. This is the legal deadline for initiating action on a particular type of claim. Failure to comply with the statute of limitations often means your case will be dismissed without consideration of the merits.

An experienced California business litigation attorney can help ensure that you meet the statute of limitations and all other legally mandated deadlines in your lawsuit. The last thing you want is for your case to be thrown out of court before it has even begun. The team at Structure Law Group can guide you through this process and make sure that does not happen.

What Are the Deadlines?

The actual deadline to file a lawsuit under the statute of limitations depends on the type of claim involved. For example, a personal injury lawsuit in California has a 2-year statute of limitations starting on the date of the injury. So if you are hit by a drunk driver, you have 2 years from the date of that accident to sue the driver for compensation.

But when it comes to breach of written contracts, a common source of business litigation in California, the statute of limitations is 4 years from the date that contract was broken. And if the alleged breach of contract is based on “fraud or mistake,” the 4-year clock does not start to run “until the discovery by the aggrieved party of the facts constituting the fraud or mistake.” So it is possible to initiate a breach of contract lawsuit even more than 4 years after the fraud or mistake actually occurred.

You will also note that the 4-year deadline applies to “written” contracts. Lawsuits arising from a breach of an “oral” contract have a statute of limitations of just 2 years. An oral contract is one that is not in writing but where there may be some written proof of its existence, such as a canceled check or a receipt.

Special Rules for Special Defendants

California law also imposes different limitations periods when certain kinds of parties are involved. Two examples are banks and government agencies. For instance, if you need to sue a bank for paying out on a check that your business did not authorize, you only have 1 year from the date the payment was made to file a lawsuit. As for lawsuits against government agencies, there is an entirely separate “administrative claim” process you need to follow before initiating litigation. For breach of contract claims against the government, you must file an administrative claim within 1 year of the alleged breach. If the agency denies your claim, a separate statute of limitations then applies with respect to filing a lawsuit.

Contact Our California Business Litigation Attorneys Today

Understanding and meeting deadlines is often the key to winning a lawsuit in California. So if you are involved in a case and need legal advice or representation from a skilled California business litigation lawyer, contact SLG today to schedule a consultation.