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Legal Deadlines: What Is the California Statute of Limitations?

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When someone’s negligence has hurt you or someone you love, filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party might be your best option. However, California law limits the period during which you can file a lawsuit.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

In legal terms, a statute of limitations is the law that limits how long you have to file a lawsuit. The length of time you have to file depends on the type of case you have.

Statutes of limitations were created in part to encourage the prompt investigation of crimes and wrongdoing. Evidence can be destroyed and witnesses’ memories can fade over time. They also prevent people from being punished for actions they took a long time ago.

What is the statute of limitations in California for filing a personal injury lawsuit?

According to the California Civil Code, personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of the injury. Personal injury cases include those that stem from a wrongdoer’s negligence, including (but not limited to) motor vehicle accidents, dog bites, slip and fall accidents, and wrongful deaths.

Other personal injuries that are intentional, such as assault, battery, or intentional infliction of emotional distress, also carry a 2-year statute of limitations.

What is the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim in California?

Though medical malpractice cases are a type of personal injury case, California residents must file suit against their medical provider within one year of discovering the injury, or within three years after the date the injury was inflicted. Legislation makes it clear that the one-year timeframe begins on the day the plaintiff reasonably should have discovered the injury.

Additionally, California law specifies that medical malpractice lawsuits can only be brought after a 90-day notice is given to the healthcare provider.

Is the statute of limitations different if you are suing the government?

Yes—if you have been harmed by a government agency, you must file a government claim form against the entity within six months of the date of injury. A “government agency” can include any publicly-funded organization, such as a public school, a city’s sanitation department, or a state government.

Once your lawyer has filed a government claim form, the entity has 45 days to respond. If they deny the claim, you have six months from the date the denial was received to file suit. If they do not respond, you have two years from the date of the initial injury to file suit.

What about the statute of limitations for employment law cases?

The appropriate legal deadline for employment-related lawsuits depends on the type of claim.

Claims related to proper pay stubs must be brought within one year of an employer’s failure to provide proper payment records.

However, most claims related to unpaid wages may be brought within three years of the initial failure to pay. These case types include those related to missed meal and rest breaks, minimum wage, overtime pay, and more.

Other employment law cases, such as wrongful termination, carry the two-year statute of limitations shared by most personal injury lawsuits in California. A recent California law extended the statute of limitations for workplace harassment to three years from the date of injury.

What happens if you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit?

If the statute of limitations has passed on your case, you will no longer be able to bring your case and obtain legal recovery.

Are there any exceptions to the statute of limitations?

There are some exceptions under which the statute of limitations is tolled. Tolling means that the statute of limitations is suspended. The “clock is paused,” so to speak, and then begins again when the reason for tolling is over.

Tolling may happen when the plaintiff is under 18, suffering from a disability, in prison, and/or serving in the military, among many other situations.

When the reason for tolling ends, the statute of limitations begins to run again.

Call PARRIS For Help Meeting Legal Deadlines

Understanding the statute of limitations can be complicated, since there are many different deadlines and exceptions under California law.

It’s crucial to contact PARRIS accident attorneys as soon as you decide that you want to pursue a legal claim to ensure that any legal deadlines are met. Start your free case consultation today by calling PARRIS at (661) 485-2072. You pay no fees until we win you compensation.

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Alex and Adriana

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