Question: What is the Statute of Limitations?
1. Easy Answer: The time period you have to file a lawsuit.
2. Long Answer:
An easier way of understanding this concept is to think “Time Limitation.” If you wait too long to file a lawsuit, you may be S.O.L. because you have run up against the Statute Of Limitations, or Time Limitation.
The statutes governing time limitations vary depending on what you are filing your lawsuit about. You can find the actual Statute of Limitations beginning with California Code of Civil Procedure Code Section 312, et seq.
For Example: Generally speaking, oral contracts have a 2 year time limitation; written contracts have a 4 year time limitation; personal injuries have a 2 year time limitation; and property damage has a 3 year time limitation.
Beware the myth that Fraud has no time limitation. That is completely untrue. Fraud has a three year time limitation from the date you discover the fraud.
3. Why do we have these time limitations?
Basically, it is a matter of fairness. You wouldn’t want something you did ten years ago to suddenly crop up and bite you in “ahemph.” These time limitations are in place so that the party accused of doing wrong may answer the claims brought against them while the evidence is still retrievable, while memories are still fresh, and while they are still on notice that claims are lurking against them.
Summary: Before you file a lawsuit, do a quick check over the statute of limitations or you will have wasted time, money, and energy only to have your complaint dismissed because you waited too long to file. Even if your complaint does not get dismissed in its entirety, some of your claims may be dismissed for running up against the time limitations.
Don’t be S.O.L.! Seek the help of an attorney or at the very least consult the Code of Civil Procedure.