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Under California law whenever there is knowledge of an injury, and facts which would cause a reasonable person to merely suspect negligence on the part of someone, the statutory clock begins ticking.
A statute of limitations is a law which sets the maximum period which one can wait before filing a lawsuit, depending on the type of case or claim. The periods vary by state and by type of claim. Federal statutes set the limitations for federal lawsuits. If the lawsuit or claim is not filed before the statutory deadline, the right to sue or make a claim is lost forever. In some instances, a statute of limitations can be extended ("tolled") based on delay in discovery of the injury or fraud. Many, but not all, statutes of limitation may be subject to equitable "tolling". This "tolling" means that the clock on the limitation time period will not start to tick until the person discovers or reasonably should have discovered the fraud. Tolling (or not starting the clock) may often be appropriate where the person has continued to rely upon another for a long period after the initial harm and the defrauder continues to conceal the wrongdoing.
There also may be a series of wrongful acts which may be viewed as a unified act of continuous fraud, with the limitations time period to start at the time of the final act in the series or after the end of the transaction. The nature of the particular relationship, level of sophistication of the person harmed and extent of the reliance of the person harmed upon the other are all factors to be considered in equitable tolling of the time limitations period.